Manchester City may look back at November 25, 2014 as the day that saved their 2014-15 season.
Losing 2-1 to 10-man Bayern Munich with five minutes to go at home, City looked to be crashing out of the UEFA Champions League as defeat would have meant they needed a huge win in Rome in two weeks time to give themselves any chance of making the knockout stages.
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However, as he often does, Sergio Aguero popped up to play the hero as he scored twice late on to complete a stunning hat trick and hand City a lifeline as they aim to qualify for the last 16 of the UCL for the second-time in club history.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men now head to play AS Roma in the Stadio Olimpico on Dec. 10 knowing a win will likely see them into the knockout stages, against all the odds, after a stuttering European campaign. They need a little bit of help from Bayern who must beat or draw with CSKA Moscow at home, but City are in with a shout of making the last 16. Which is something that has looked out of the question for most of their UCL campaign this season.
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After the game captain Vincent Kompany lauded Aguero and is already looking forward to City’s showdown in Rome in two weeks time.
“It was an awkward game. They were incredibly lethal and played well with 10 men but we did what we had to do and defeated a big team today,” Kompany said. “If you want to succeed at anything you need to a special player in a special form. Sergio Aguero is our special player and when he is in that form he makes things achievable. What a game it will be against Roma. We will take a lot of fans and the atmosphere will be incredible.”
City were without a Champions League win this season heading into this match and were pretty lucky to bag their first victory after being outplayed by Bayern, despite the Bavarians being down to 10-men. Pellegrini’s side huffed and puffed after going 2-1 down and looked to be heading to another disappointing defeat in the UCL which would have made advancing to the knockout stages incredible difficult for the English champions.
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After Aguero’s late show, a win in Rome or any score draw will seal their passage into the last 16 of the Champions League. Well, as long as CSKA Moscow don’t beat Bayern in Munich. Permutations galore remain, but the Citizens have given themselves a great chance of advancing. Plus the momentum they can gain from this victory means it could well help their form improve in the Premier League after several disjointed displays in recent weeks.
As for Aguero, he now has 17 goals in 18 games for City this season and is delighted their UCL fate is going down to the wire in the Eternal City next month.
“I am very happy. It is very important for us,” Aguero said. “The draw was difficult but we are happy now because this is a very important result and the next game we have to win.”