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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Aguero hat-trick puts City on track for last 16

Hitman's hat-trick against 10-man Bayern blasts open battle to qualify

Sergio Aguero struck twice in the closing minutes to complete a hat-trick and revive Manchester City's Champions League hopes with a 3-2 win over 10-man Bayern Munich.

City's challenge had looked all but over after Aguero's early penalty was cancelled out by quickfire goals from Xabi Alonso and Robert Lewandowski before half-time. But Aguero seized on a mistake from the otherwise brilliant Alonso to equalise with five minutes remaining and then broke through again after a Jerome Boateng error for a brilliant winner.

The victory was City's first of the competition and brought them level with Roma and CSKA Moscow in Group E with a trip to the Italian capital to come next month.

City certainly did it the hard way after surrendering their early advantage.

Aguero struck from the spot after being brought down by Medhi Benatia, who was sent off for his challenge.

But they were unable to build on that advantage and it was left to the prolific Aguero to save them, the Argentinian doing so in style by taking his goal tally for the season to 17.

eliminated

CSKA Moscow's last-gasp draw against Roma had meant City could not be eliminated on the night and the atmosphere, flat in home European games this season, reflected that hope.

Frank Lampard and Fernando were deployed in a five-man midfield as Manchester City attempted to revive their Champions League fortunes against star-studded Bayern Munich.

The pair replaced the suspended Yaya Toure and Fernandinho while James Milner also came in and Sergio Aguero started up front alone. Manager Manuel Pellegrini also made two defensive changes at the Etihad Stadium as Eliaquim Mangala and Bacary Sagna featured.

Althought the game was, theoretically, not a must-win encounter, but with just two points from four previous fixtures, City were anxious for a positive result.

They made a lively start. Jesus Navas picked out the run of Samir Nasri with a superb through ball and the Frenchman looked threatening as he checked back to shoot, although his effort was blocked.

Gael Clichy maintained the positive start with a quick charge down the left but his cross for Frank Lampard was slightly overhit. Arjen Robben was typically full of running and flicked a superb pass into the box for Sebastian Rode to test Joe Hart at point-blank range.

Robben then drove a shot wide before breaking down the left to set up Rafinha, whose low drive was blocked by Eliaquim Mangala.

It proved a critical intervention as Lampard released Aguero with a fine long pass. The Argentinian raced into the area and looked to have the better of Benatia before the Moroccan brought him down with an ill-timed challenge.

Czech referee Pavel Kralovec did not hurry his decision but correctly pointed to the spot and showed the red card to Benatia.

Aguero's spot-kick was clinical and Lampard went close to hitting a second soon after with a shot that flew narrowly wide from a well-worked free-kick.

But Bayern quickly readjusted to the loss of a man, with Rode sacrificed for Dante and Alonso commanding more of the ball to dictate play.

The former Liverpool and Real Madrid schemer started to edge his battle with old foe Lampard and showed his eye for goal with a superb free-kick.

Lewandowski was brought down by Mangala on the edge of the box after 40 minutes and Alonso caught Hart unawares by calmly stroking a low shot past the wall and into the bottom corner.

City were behind before they had time to regroup as their former player Jerome Boateng, scorer against them in September, again undid them.

Boateng floated in a cross that dipped over Vincent Kompany and Lewandowski outmuscled Bacary Sagna to send the ball looping into the net off his shoulder.

It might have got worse for City early in the second half as Alonso drove Bayern forward again and exchanged passes with Franck Ribery before curling over.

Lampard brought the best out of Neuer as the goalkeeper produced a fine one-handed save to deny the former England midfielder from the edge of the area. Despite that, the game looked to be drifting away from City when Alonso misplaced a pass and Aguero broke clear to tuck a low shot past Neuer.

City suddenly found an extra gear and when Boateng was hurried into a clearance in the last minute, Aguero was on hand again to pounce and beat Neuer from close range. But there is still work to be done for City in Rome.

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