Kevin De Bruyne rescues Man City late vs. Sevilla
Injury-hit Manchester City, inspired by Yaya Toure, was outplayed for good portions Wednesday night, but Kevin De Bruyne scored off a stoppage-time counter attack to give them full points from their Champions League Group D match against Sevilla.
Toure found De Bruyne, who picked the far post after stepping inside from the top right of the box to turn an apparent 1-1 draw into a 2-1 victory that could kick-start their advancement to the knockout stage. For Sevilla, the loss will be a bitter pill, but they allowed City to come at them in the closing stages after dominating for long stretches.
With Juventus held to draw by Borussia Moenchengladbach in the other group match, City find themselves just a point behind the Italians in second place after three matches, well-positioned to get out of the tricky section.
"I think that maybe there is a lot of criticism of this team in Europe but these two last games that we played in Europe reflect that we have the character to try to win," City manager Manuel Pellegrini said.
Yevhen Konoplyanka’s first half goal was no more than the visitors deserved, but it was matched by an Adil Rami own goal that cost Sevilla a deserved half-time edge. Unai Emery’s team always looked sharper going forward but they let things get away in the crucial closing stage, conceding too much space to an attack that had never looked sharp and was dependent almost entirely on its never-quit effort.
"You learn from your mistakes. We’d do the same again to win the game. I’d say it’s a positive experience tonight – part of our apprenticeship as a side," Emery said.
Because Sevilla host City — in the return pairing in what looks to be a straight fight for the second qualifying spot in the group — they can reclaim some of the damage done, but they will surely look back at their missed chances in the Etihad Stadium with regret.
City, playing without injured captain Vincent Kompany until a stoppage-time cameo, and influential attackers Sergio Aguero and David Silva, labored to make an impression on an opponent who was quicker and more creative but ultimately was unable to make their advantages count.
The Europa League champions were in the ascendancy for the first half hour, so it was no surprise when Konoplyanka put them on top. The central defensive pairing of Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi looked uncertain — Kompany’s absence obvious — and Sevilla took advantage of the disorganized backline to get on top.
Konoplyanka had pinged a 17th minute free kick off Joe Hart’s left-hand post before finding the back of the net in the 30th minute. The movement began on the right, Pablo Zabaleta seeming to switch off for a vital second and nobody was shadowing the scorer in the center of the box as he popped up alone to receive the pass from Vitolo and score from eight yards out.
City’s attack lacked its usual fluid speed, but the goal sparked them into the response that proved enough to get them back in the match. It was the ever-dangerous Toure, whose magic work on the right byeline created the chance for the hosts to get level. Toure somehow stepped past defenders and remained in the field of play before cutting the ball back across the face of goal for Raheem Sterling’s shot that Sergio Rico could only block away.
The rebound chance came to the feet of Wilfried Bony, who smacked the ball off the knee of Rami and past the stranded keeper just six minutes after Sevilla had taken the lead.
Sevilla continued to have no trouble finding room to attack after the restart and probably should have been back on top in the 55th minute, but Kevin Gameiro failed to take a fine header chance from a Benoit Trémoulinas cross that found the City defense absent in the middle once again. Garneiro headed over rather than testing Hart from close range.
The Spaniards were still controling much of the match tempo and looking dangerous whenever they could get the ball wide with runners available in the box for crosses but Gameiro’s miss proved their last best chance as the pace of their play dipped in the final stages.
City began to make some openings late but the crosses lacked the necessary bite and the raids were sporadic rather than sustained. Still, the Premier League leaders came forward, refusing to accept a draw that looked a good result.
First, Rico denied YaYa Toure as they headed into stoppage time, then City’s talisman, the reigning African Player of the Year, led one more raid, found DeBruyne wide on the right and Sevilla made the mistake of giving the Belgian too much room to create.
Information from PA Sport was used in this match report.
Juventus 0, Borussia Moenchengladbach 0
(PA Sport) — Borussia Monchengladbach brought an end to Juventus’ perfect start in the Champions League on Wednesday when they held the Serie A giants to a goalless draw in Turin.
The Italians, last season’s beaten finalists, had the best chances of the game in the second half but Paul Pogba’s attempts were met with fine saves from visiting goalkeeper Yann Sommer.
The point is enough to keep Juve at the top of Group D but they are just one point clear of Manchester City, who beat Sevilla 2-1.
The Foals, who failed to test Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon throughout the encounter, are at the foot of the standings.
The hosts went into the contest looking to make it three wins in a row in the competition against a German side who had not tasted victory in Europe’s elite club competition since their last appearance in 1978.
Gladbach struggled without the injured trio of Martin Stranzl, Patrick Herrmann and Nico Schulz.
Juve had a strong start but Alvaro Morata and Juan Cuadrado saw their attempts from outside the area fly wide.
At the other end, Raffael tried his luck from outside the area but saw his attempt go off target.
In the 29th minute, Granit Xhaka made a vital block after Pogba drilled a right-footed attempt on target.
Shortly after, Giorgio Chiellini’s header from Juan Cuadrado’s cross went wide.
The visitors were lucky not to go down to 10 men in the 42nd minute when Alvaro Dominguez lost the ball to Morata and then fouled the Spaniard when he was clear on goal.
The referee showed Dominguez a yellow card, much to the anger of the home crowd.
Juve showed more intent after the restart and in the 49th minute Sommer was forced to fully stretch to clear Pogba’s curled attempt.
Nine minutes later and Sommer was called on again to make a save after Pogba’s powerful free-kick.
In the 64th minute, Morata’s over-head kick went wide as Juve continued to press forward.
Buffon got a standing ovation shortly after when he beat former captain Alessandro Del Piero’s club record of 48,867 minutes of competitive football for Juve.
Morata, who was looking to set a new record of scoring in six consecutive Champions League games, was replaced in the 81st minute.
The visitors, who will take on Juve in Germany in a fortnight, held on for their first point of the campaign.