The reigning champions of England, Manchester City made the trip to the Veltins-Arena to face off against Schalke, in the first leg of their Round of 16 tie of the Champions League. They were the team in form and were hoping to get the most out of this tie away from home, as they looked to leave their mark with a win in Germany.
Things also started off well for them, as they took an early lead when Sergio Aguero finished off a goal in the 18th minute of the game. It looked as if the Manchester based side were in-charge. However, things went totally downhill from that point on.
First, Nicolas Otamendi gave away a penalty for a rather harsh hand-ball decision, which saw him booked. Nabil Bentaleb stepped up to make it 1-1. On the other hand, Fernandinho made a silly challenge in the box a few minutes later and was booked too, giving away a second penalty. Bentaleb stepped up once again and what had been a lead, was turned into a deficit by the end of the first half, as the Citizens trailed 2-1.
After the restart, things only went from bad to worse for the Manchester based side. They could neither find a goal to make it 2-2 and the chances just kept being wasted. Further, Otamendi was sent off in the 68th minute for a silly challenge, which saw him being booked for the second time in the match.
Pep was forced to make some changes, though things never looked the same and though City got their away goal, it was an uphill task still. They pushed hard and the changes did their think. It was Ederson who set up a goal for Sterling to make it 2-2, while Sane (the super sub) scored the winner.
A narrow 3-2 win for the English giants, though this tie is far from over and can go in either side’s favour.
Talking Points Of The Game-
The Sergio Aguero Opener
The Argentine striker gave his team the lead once again and had handed them the early advantage, which his side looked to build on. His goal in the 18th minute showcased the form that he was in, as he had destroyed the London based clubs in the Premier League. It was the kind of start that Pep was hoping that his team would be off to and they did not disappoint.
The Otamendi Penalty Incident, VAR And The Booking
It was quite a harsh call to actually give this as a penalty and even book the centre-back, who had not handled the ball intentionally. The only logical reasoning of this decision being given by the VAR possibly could be the fact that the shot that was deflected by his hand was goal-bound, though the collision with his hand, took it away from goal. Eventually he was booked for it as well.
The Silly Penalty Conceded By Fernandinho
This one was a really silly foul that Fernandinho did and gave away a second penalty. His stupidity took the initiative of the game away from his side and he handed Schalke an advantage at home. It is a different thing that the home side couldn’t hold on to their lead, else the Brazilian had ensured that the German side would surely get something out of this game. He was booked as well.
The Otamendi Sending Off
Another harsh decision for Otamendi, who was not having his best day in terms of luck. The central defender in a three man City defence, clattered into Burgstaller and the referee immediately booked him. It wasn’t really a malicious challenge, but the match official sent him off, as he felt that it deserved yet another card because of the fact that the defender came in from behind onto the attacking player, who was trying to block the ball from him.
Pep’s Magic Subs
Just when it felt like that the game was lost with City down to 10 men, Pep made some tactical changes that had a huge impact in the result of the game. Kompany came on at the back and added his experience to the defensive line. On the other hand, Leroy Sane was also brought in and he proved to be the key man, as he scored the match-winner.
Overall, the two changes did what was needed of them and the win and three away goals will give City the confidence to win this tie at the Etihad now. Let’s see what happens in the reverse fixture.