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Friday 18 August 2017

Manchester City slip up in Moscow

Citizens face big battle for qualification

Manchester City players remonstrate with referee Istvan Vad after he awarded a penalty to CSKA. Photo credit: AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev
Manchester City players remonstrate with referee Istvan Vad after he awarded a penalty to CSKA. Photo credit: AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev

Manchester City surrendered a two-goal lead as they again stuttered on the Champions League stage, drawing 2-2 amid more controversy at CSKA Moscow.

City looked to have ignited their Group E campaign as they claimed a commanding lead with well-worked goals from Sergio Aguero and James Milner at the Khimki Arena.

But CSKA - who officially had no support in a game played behind closed doors but actually appeared to have 200-300 chanting fans - hit back through Seydou Doumbia and a contentious late Bebras Natcho penalty.

Natcho struck after Doumbia appeared to go down theatrically in the box under a challenge from Aleksandar Kolarov.

That left City, who had hit the woodwork when leading 2-0, hanging on for a point but the result may still have done significant damage to their hopes of progress.

The match was played almost a year after another encounter between the same two sides at the stadium was marred by racist chanting aimed at City's Yaya Toure.

That was the first of three offences in a year which led to their latest meeting being played in a closed stadium.

City first threatened when the advancing Pablo Zabaleta chested down a Toure cross but volleyed narrowly side.

As temperatures plummeted and light snow fell, it took some time for City to find their flow.

But they burst into life to claim the lead just before the half hour as David Silva released Edin Dzeko with a defence-splitting pass.

The Bosnian raced in on goal and then unselfishly squared for Aguero to tap home the opener.

Dzeko might have doubled the lead moments later but his well-struck shot was claimed comfortably by Igor Akinfeev.City took a firm grip with a second well-worked goal after 38 minutes.

Zabaleta raced onto a long ball over the top from Toure and nodded down to Aguero. The Argentinian looked to scuff a shot but it rolled straight into the path of Milner who made no mistake from in front of goal.

City almost had a third before the interval as Kolarov fed Dzeko from the left. Dzeko appeared to be impeded as he weighed up a shot - and possibly could have gone down for a penalty - and the ball ran through to Milner, who hit the post from a tight angle.

CSKA regrouped at the interval and returned with greater determination.

BREACHED

The pressure from CSKA mounted and City were breached after 64 minutes when Musa broke free down the right and pulled the ball back for substitute Doumbia to bundle in.

CSKA continued to force the pace and City began to look ragged and like a side holding on. Despite that, the Russians did appear to be lacking that vital cutting edge until Doumbia went down in the area.

Natcho stepped up to rifle home, to the delight of the CSKA supporters in attendance.

Asked if his team are now outsiders to get out of Group E, City boss Manuel Pellegrini said: "Why? We have nine points more to play for. After we have played for the remaining nine points, we will see."

Asked further if he is confident City will qualify, he said: "Of course, in the end."

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