Manchester City’s UEFA Champions League hopes hang in the balance as the Citizens threw away a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 with CSKA Moscow in Russia.
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City raced into a 2-0 lead in the first half as goals from Sergio Aguero and James Milner set Manuel Pellegrini’s men on their way. However, CSKA came roaring back in the final 25 minutes as Seydou Doumbia scored with the Russian sides first shot on target to make it 2-1. Then CSKA drew level with five minutes left as Aleksandar Kolarov clipped Doumbia and Bebras Natcho made it 2-2 from the spot.
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Late on CSKA pushed for the win, as City failed to beat the Russian champions who had previously lost their last six-straight UCL matches. With three games left in Group E, City are still without a win and have just two points on the board as AS Roma and Bayern Munich remain the favorites to advance.
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In an eerily quite Khimki Arena in Moscow (fans were banned from attendance after UEFA sanctions against CSKA for racism and violence), the home side started brightly as Ahmed Musa and Zoran Tosic smashed shots just wide on a snowy night in the Russian capital. However the reigning Premier League champs soon got into their stride.
Aguero (who else!?) got City off and running as the red-hot Argentine forward pounced to finish after a lovely ball from David Silva teed up Edin Dzeko, who feed Aguero for the tap in. 1-0 to the Citizens, as Aguero had his eighth goal in his last five games.
That goal got City going as Dzeko forced Igor Akinfeev into a superb stop moments later, then Milner doubled the English champions’ lead after Aguero’s shot fell into his path. Seconds later Milner almost had another but his effort, after Aleksandar Kolarov and Dzeko both came close and had penalty shots waved away, cannoned off the post and out.
After the break the Citizens took their foot of the gas as CSKA went close through Tosic and Bebras Natcho. But soon the small number of people inside the Khimki (who were supposed to be sponsors and UEFA officials) were celebrating as Natcho crossed for Doumbia to tap home and set up a nervous finish for City.
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Pellegrini responded by bringing on Fernandinho and Jesus Navas to help secure the win, but City failed to hold on for a vital three points after Nacho’s late penalty kick. The Citizens now host CSKA at the Etihad Stadium on Nov. 5 and anything but a win would all but seal their exit from Europe’s elite club competition.
CSKA: Akinfeev, Fernandes, V. Berezutski (Doumbia, 46′) Ignashevich, Shchennikov, A. Berezutski, Natcho, Tosic (Efremov, 69′), Eremenko, Milanov, Musa
Goals: Doumbia (64′), Nacho (86′)
Manchester City: Hart, Kolarov, Mangala, Kompany, Zabaleta, Fernando (Jovetic, 86′), Toure, Milner, Silva (Fernandinho, 78′), Dzeko (Navas, 72′), Aguero.
Goals: Aguero (29′), Milner (38′)