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Manchester City needed to win at home against Real Madrid and hope other results went their way to keep their aspiration of sneaking into the last 16 of the Champions League [alive, whereas Real were looking to avoid defeat to go through. It was not to be for City though as 10-man Real Madrid hung on for a share of the spoils, while Borussia Dortmund thumped Ajax 4-1 in Amsterdam to send the English Champions stumbling out of the competition at the group stage for the second year running.
Manchester City were clearly the better side on the night but Real Madrid created the better chances and despite playing the last 20 minutes with 10 men, they hung on for a deserved 1-1 draw to ensure progression to the knockout stages. City will look at the match as a missed opportunity and had they played from the start like they did in the 2nd half, they could have gotten a different result.
Manchester City welcomed Spanish champions Real Madrid to the Etihad Stadium knowing only a win would keep them alive in the competition and anything else would mean successive failures at the group stage of Europeâ€™s premier club competition. Coming into matchday 5, City were on 2 points while Madrid were on 7. City needed a win coupled with some favorable results to help them progress through to the next round and with the last match of the group involving a tough trip away to Dortmund, this was a must win game for City.
Manchester City started the match in a 3-5-2 formation, trying to crowd out the midfield and nullify the impact of Madridâ€™s star studded attack. Joe Hart continued in goal with Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta and Nastasic forming a 3-man defence, Joleon Lescott was once again left on the bench for a Champions League game. Aleksandar Kolarov and Maicon were given the responsibility to patrol down the flanks while also keeping out Angel di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo. Maicon did not have a very good game against the Portuguese superstar in the reverse fixture at Santiago Bernabeu and would have hoped for a better showing tonight to cement a place for himself in the Man City line-up. Samir Nasri, David Silva and Yaya Toure formed the 3-man central midfield with Sergio Ageuro and Edin Dzeko upfront.
Real Madrid went into this match in their conventional 4-2-3-1 formation. Fabio Contraeo continued at left back in the absence of the injured Marcelo, who was excellent in the reverse fixture. Pepe and Sergio Ramos are the tried and trusted central defensive partnership for Mourinho while Alvaro Arbeloa started at right back. Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira played in front of the back four. Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel di Maria have been first choice for Madrid on the flanks and they were partnered by new summer signing Luka Modric, who played just behind the striker. Karim Benzema was the lone man upfront for Madrid. Kaka and Mesut Ozil offered some firepower coming off the bench.
Manchester City were expected to be the more aggressive side of the two and made the brighter start. Their possession play didn't seem to have any natural end product as Real put men behind the ball leaving little room to work with. Ronaldo started the match on the right flank rather than his usual left, but City were the team with majority of the possession. Zabaleta's pull on Ronaldo in a swift Madrid counter was somehow missed by the referee but City were punished in the 10th minute for some poor defending. The English Champions failed to close down Di Maria, and his cross into the box was met by Benzema, who marked his 150th game for Madrid with a goal.
City were keeping more of the ball but Madrid were creating the better chances as Ronaldo cut back for Khedira in the box who opened his body but shot wide. It was the same pair in action a minute later as Khedira hit the side netting from a Ronaldo cross after he easily skipped past Kompany.
It was soon Ronaldo's turn to test City more directly as he ran onto a long ball, but his chip over Hart was cleared off the line by a retreating Nastasic. Madrid had 7 attempts on goal in the first 16 minutes before City mustered up their first strike on Madrid's goal 5 minutes later. It was a good one though as Aguero's shot from the edge of the box was tipped over the bar by Casillas.
Madrid though were opening up City with utmost ease through the middle of the pitch with some swift counter attacks and Khedira managed to bring out a fine block from Hart after he wriggled his way past 3 City defenders.
Maicon was starting to get in advance positions in the Madrid half as the first half progressed and a fine one-two with Aguero on the edge of the box after a good run down the right resulted in a shot that went wide of goal.
The game was opening up with City dominating possession but not creating enough, while Madrid were hitting City on the counter through the pace of Di Maria and Ronaldo.
Yaya Toure received the first yellow card of the game for his foul on Ronaldo in the 29th minute as City moved to a more traditional 4-4-2 with Maicon playing as a right winger. David Silva showed glimpses of his form from last season as he ran past Ramos into the Madrid box but his pass was met by Dzeko who shot wide. Arbeloa received Madridâ€™s first yellow card for his cynical foul outside the Madrid penalty area on Aguero, but Kolarov shot just wide from the resulting freekick.
The game was being played at a higher tempo as City pushed for an equalizer while Madrid pushing them back with some swift counter attacks. Maicon was booked in the 40th minute for his foul on Benzema after the Frenchman tried to run onto a through ball and was pulled back by the the Brazilian.
The game continued on the same note with both sides not managing many clear cut chances. Madrid headed into the break the happier side being a goal up, but disappointed at not having put this game to bed.
Mancini made a tactical change for the 2nd half as he brought on Javi Garcia for Kolarov, which allowed Nasri and Silva to move further up the pitch. And the change sparked City into life as they started the 2nd half in style with Nasri getting a corner with some fine work on the left flank. Alonso was booked early in the 2nd half for a foul on Silva.
City were bossing Madrid down their right hand side and a Maicon cross was met by Aguero, who sent his header high and wide. City were passing around the ball quicker than the first half and put more pressure on Madrid as they were pushed back into their half.
Madrid were still playing on the counter and Di Maria's cross was headed into the arms of Hart by Khedira. Nasri, Zabaleta and Ramos were booked in quick successon as the match became more open and City had the lionâ€™s share of possession. Mancini brought Tevez on for Nasri in the 60th minute as he tried to take the fight into the final matchday. A Maicon cross from the right was met by Aguero at the far post but a fine save by Casillas on the line kept Madridâ€™s lead intact. Madrid were creating few chances and a misplaced pass by Kompany allowed Modric to release Ronaldo, whose shot from distance was spilled by Hart but no damage was done.
City were handed a lifeline when Arbeloa fouled Aguero inside the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Arbeloa was also given his marching orders for a 2nd yellow as Madrid were reduced to 10 men for the last 18 minutes. Aguero stepped up and converted to bring City level and keep their hopes alive in the competition. Mourinho brought on Varane for Benzema as Madrid looked to avoid defeat to book their place in the last 16.
City were all over Madrid in the 2nd half as they went for broke but could not find a way past the resolute Madrid defence. Maicon was causing some serious problems for Madrid down the right hand side but his crosses were headed out by Madrid defenders as City failed to find an elusive winner.
The game ended in a 1-1 draw, and that result coupled with Borussia Dortmundâ€™s 4-1 win over Ajax meant Real Madrid were through to the knockout stages and Man City were eliminated. City will be under pressure on matchday 6 to finish above Ajax by producing a performance in Dortmund to ensure that they at the very least qualify for the Europa League.
Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Maicon, Kolarov, Nasri, Toure, Silva, Dzeko, Aguero.
Subs: Pantilimon, Lescott, Milner, Sinclair, Javi Garcia, Barry, Tevez.
Real Madrid: Casillas, Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Fabio Coentrao, Khedira, Alonso, Di Maria, Modric, Ronaldo, Benzema.
Subs: Adan, Varane, Kaka, Ozil, Albiol, Callejon, Nacho.
Final Score: Man City 1-1 Real Madrid (Benzema 10', Aguero 74')
File Photograph Copyright: Ryu Voelkel
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