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Manchester City 5 Monaco 3: Guardiola’s gamble pays off

Manchester City triumphed over Monaco in a tremendous Champions League clash at the Etihad Stadium. City came back from 2-1 and 3-2 to dramatically clinch the victory in this first leg encounter. The final result was the highest scoring first leg in a Champions League knockout stage.

It was a game that had everything. There were goals, turnarounds, controversial referee decisions and risky managerial tactics. If anything, we were reminded of what we already knew. City has  brilliant offensive talent, but is still severely lacking in defense. Monaco are able to play great counter attacking football and can depend on the world-class talent of Radamel Falcao. And City’s youngsters are ready to make a huge impact on the game.

City opened the scoring in the 26th minute. Sterling poached a wide cross from Leroy Sane, who had a particularly good game for his side. Throughout the game City attempted to overload the flanks and push forward. This did often leave them exposed at the back.

Before half-time Monaco were back in the game. First, Fabinho’s cross in the box was put away by Falcao with a brilliant header. Minutes later Fabinho sent a through ball to the center of the static City defense. Mbappe was there to make it 2-1.

Things could have easily gotten a lot worse for City. Otamendi’s foul against Falcao gifted Monaco a penalty kick. Caballero made amends saving Falcao’s shot and keeping out a goal that would have likely taken the game beyond City’s reach.

Man City seemed more focused in the second half.  Aguerro took advantage of a Subasic error to make it 2-2. Regardless, Monaco were equipped to take the lead again. Falcao once more benefited from City’s slow defensive players and scored with a beautiful chipped ball over the keeper.

Guardiola decided to gamble even more on attack and it paid off. City made the best of their corner kicks. First Aguerro volleyed a shot from Silva’s corner to bring his side level once more. Six minutes later Stones was on the receiving end, chipping in the ball from close range.

A through ball brought Aguerro in front of goal minutes later. Although on a hat-trick run, the forward selflessly passed to Sane who took care of the formality of putting the ball away. It was a fine closer for one of Sane’s best games since joining Manchester City. The player has not been under too much pressure since his transfer earlier this season.  The aim was on developing his talent for the future. However, Leroy Sane’s good run of form makes him one of the most important players for City in his opening season.

Sergio Aguero and Radamel Falcao, the teams’ strikers, were the other key players on the evening. Both scored twice and were vital to their team’s playing. Falcao even missed a penalty and a few other chances that could have helped Monaco in the second leg.  His finishing drew comparisons to his time while on loan to Manchester United.

2 – Falcao has scored as many goals tonight in Manchester as he did at Old Trafford for Manchester United (15 games). Homecoming.

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 21, 2017

With 3 away goals Monaco will be hoping they can turn things around in the second leg. Elsewhere Manchester City will want to surpass last year’s semi-final performance in the Champions League. City’s manager Pep Guardiola is no stranger to UCL triumph and will hope to bring the same success to the Manchester side.

Here are some Key Statistics for last night’s game:

  • Manchester City had scored five times in the Champions League (exc. qualifiers) only on one prevous occasion ( the 5-2 victory against CSKA Moscow in 2013)
  • Kylian Mbappe became the second youngest French player to score in the Champions League. Karim Benzema currently holds the record. He scored at 17y 352d  against Rosenborg in December 2005.
  • Raheem Sterling has contributed to ten goals in the Champions League out of the last nine games in which he started. He scored five times and had five assists.
  • Sergio Aguero scored the 200th European goal for Manchester City (his first goal on the night). Aguerro is on a good run with five goals scored in his last three games in the UCL at the Etihad grounds.
  • City has managed to keep out the last five penalties handed against them. Caballero is responsible for two saves, while Joe Hart had kept out three.
  • The game had the highest number of yellow cards in the Champions League this season. Ten yellow cards were handed out.

 

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