Manchester - An injury-time goal from Sergio Aguero snatched a dramatic 2-1
victory for Manchester City over Spanish side Villarreal to reignite
their Champions League dream on Tuesday.
Aguero converted from
close range after Pablo Zabaleta's cross had been helped on by David
Silva with only seconds remaining of the three minutes of added time in a
memorable finish at Eastlands.
The result will come as welcome
relief to manager Roberto Mancini who had set his side a target of ten
points to reach the next phase, a mark now within their grasp with three
But Villarreal were incensed at the winning
goal, presumably claiming for an offside, and their players surrounded
the officials on the final whistle.
"I said before the game it was
important to win and I think we deserved to because we had a lot of
chances to score," Mancini said.
"When you play in the Champions
League for the first time you need to improve game after game. We needed
to win and I think tonight after this game we can do better."
Mancini believes Aguero's winner has kept his side's chances of winning the group, which also includes Bayern Munich and Napoli.
"It was an important goal because it is now open for first place (in the group)," he said.
pre-match build-up had emphasised the importance of City recording
their first ever Champions League victory against the Spanish visitors,
which made the opening four minutes all the more potentially damaging
for the world's self-styled wealthiest club.
City were still
trying to settle into a rhythm when Silva's sloppy play outside his area
placed Nigel de Jong in trouble as he lost the ball to Jonathan De
The Villarreal playmaker found former United youngster
Giuseppe Rossi whose shot from the edge of the box was fumbled by Joe
Hart and Cani reacted first to guide the rebound into the City goal.
their credit, City responded well, while always looking susceptible to
the counter-attack, although it took them until the 42nd minute to
convert chances into the equalising goal.
It came from the
impressive City left-back Aleksandar Kolarov whose low cross was
destined for Edin Dzeko inside the Villarreal six-yard area until
defender Carlos Marchena slid in and guided the ball into his own goal.
restart found Giuseppe Rossi continuing to be a thorn in City's side
with a number of sights of goal, one of which forced Hart into a
full-length diving save after 47 minutes.
But the best opening of
the early exchanges fell to City, with Zabaleta picking out Dzeko close
to goal and the forward forcing Lopez into another impressive block.
Zapata's rampaging run ended with Hart once more required to show good
handling skills in the soaking conditions and Mancini, realising the
seriousness of the situation, threw on Aguero, judged fit but not fit
enough to start the game, after just over an hour.
There was no
instant improvement, the best City could muster over the next
quarter-hour coming, yet again, from Kolarov whose brilliantly-hit
free-kick landed in the Villarreal side netting.
To add to the
mounting frustration, Dzeko found himself clean through after 77 minutes
from an Aguero pass but failed to even test Lopez, his effort flying
well off target.
Another poor miss from Dzeko and a Zabaleta shot,
which was placed too close to the goalkeeper, followed although the
late winner eased those City frustrations considerably.
Collated Champions League results on Tuesday:
At Naples, Italy
Napoli (ITA) 1 (Badsuber 39-og) Bayern Munich (GER) 1 (Kroos 2)
At Manchester, England
Manchester City (ENG) 2 (Marchena 43-og, Aguero 90+3) Villarreal (ESP) 1 (Cani 4)
CSKA Moscow (RUS) 3 (Doumbia 29, 86, Cauna 76) Trabzonspor (TUR) 0
At Lille, France
Lille (FRA) 0 Inter Milan (ITA) 1 (Pazzini 21)
At Basel, Switzerland
FC Basel (SUI) 0 Benfica (POR) 2 (Cesar 20, Cordoza 75)
Otelul Galati (ROM) 0 Manchester United (ENG) 2 (Rooney 64-pen, 90+2-pen)
Real Madrid (ESP) 4 (Benzema 19, Khedira 47, Lloris 55-og, Sergio Ramos 81) Lyon (FRA) 0
Dinamo Zagreb (CRO) 0 Ajax (NED) 2 (Boerrigter 49, Eriksen 90)