City confirm Mancini sacking
Mon, 13 May 2013 22:51:00
Jose Recio's dramatic injury-time equaliser ensured struggling Granada dented Real Sociedad's Champions League hopes with a 2-2 draw in La Liga on Monday night.
The hosts looked set for all three points thanks to Imanol Agirretxe's double in-between Youssef El Arabi's leveller for Granada, but on-loan Malaga midfielder Recio popped up in the third minute of added-on time as the spoils were shared.
Sociedad still moved into the top four of the Primera Division but they are only level on points with Valencia and still have tricky fixtures against Sevilla and Real Madrid to come.
They started in emphatic fashion on Monday night, however, going ahead with their first real sight at goal.
Uruguayan midfielder Gonzalo Castro swung in a free-kick from the right wing, with Agirretxe heading home from close range.
To their credit, Granada hit back in the 15th minute as Gabriel Torje's strike from distance was deflected into the path of El Arabi, who drilled past Sociedad goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.
Chances were few and far between for the remainder of the half, with both sides resorting to long distance strikes.
However, in the final minute of the half, Agirretxe gave Sociedad the lead once more after converting from Carlos Vela's left-wing cross.
The 26-year-old striker nearly had his hat-trick after the interval, but saw his strike from inside the area cannon off the post, while at the other end, Claudio did magnificently to keep out El Arabi's point-blank strike and Mikel Rico missed the target from close range.
The visitors continued to pour forward in search of an equaliser and Claudio once again had to be at his best to tip on-loan Benfica forward Nolito's 25-yard strike round the post.
They were nearly caught on the hop as Vela became the second Sociedad player to be denied by the woodwork after his strike with his weaker right foot came back off a post.
Claudio once again outlined his importance to Sociedad's hopes of emerging with all three points with two brilliant saves off Yacine Brahimi and Nolito.
But the Sociedad custodian's efforts proved to be in vain as Recio hammered home from 12 yards to reward Granada's efforts.
City failed to publicly back their manager over the weekend as the build-up to Saturday's FA Cup final was overshadowed by reports linking Malaga's Manuel Pellegrini with the job.
City were beaten by Wigan at Wembley, and that disappointment alongside an unconvincing Premier League title defence and a second successive failure get beyond the Champions League group stage, means Mancini's time in Manchester is up after three-and-a-half years.
A club statement read: "It is with regret that Manchester City Football Club announces that Roberto Mancini has been relieved of his duties as manager.
"This has been a difficult decision for the owner, Chairman and Board to make and it is the outcome of a planned end of season review process that has been brought forward in light of recent speculation and out of respect for Roberto and his extensive contributions to the football club.
"Despite everyone's best efforts, the club has failed to achieve any of its stated targets this year, with the exception of qualification for next season's UEFA Champions League.
"This, combined with an identified need to develop a holistic approach to all aspects of football at the Club, has meant that the decision has been taken to find a new manager for the 2013/14 season and beyond."
Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak said: "Roberto's record speaks for itself and he has the respect and gratitude of owner Sheikh Mansour, myself and the board for all of his hard work and commitment over the last three-and-a-half years.
"He has clearly also secured the love and respect of our fans. He has done as he promised and delivered silverware and success, breaking the club's 35-year trophy drought and securing the title in 2012.
"I would like to personally and publicly thank him for his dedication to the progress that he has overseen and for his support and continued friendship."
Brian Kidd will be in charge for the final two games of the season and the post-season tour to the United States, but the focus now will be on Pellegrini.
The Chilean, a former Villarreal and Real Madrid boss, is an odds-on favourite for the job but denied on Sunday night that a deal to take over is already in place.