Sporting 1 Man City 0: We can still reach the quarter-finals – Mancini
Roberto Mancini believes Manchester City can produce a better performance in the second leg at the Etihad Stadium
Roberto Mancini is confident Manchester City can still reach the Europa League quarter-finals, despite losing 1-0 to Sporting Lisbon in the first leg of their last-16 tie on Thursday night.
The visitors made little impact in the first half, and Sporting defender Xandão scored the winner after 51 minutes with a clever close-range backheel to punish a below-par City at the Jose Alvalade Stadium.
City came close to levelling with Mario Balotelli and Aleksandar Kolarov both hitting the woodwork, while Sergio Agüero could have dramatically equalised in the final minute, but he was denied by desperate Sporting defending.
“It wasn’t a surprise because anything can happen in football, but I don’t think we deserve to lose,” said Mancini.
“We didn’t play very well but could’ve scored, then conceded a goal, so that is it. We have another 90 minutes and I think it will be a different game.
“We still have a big chance. Hopefully we will have a chance to score and I think we will score.
“I don’t think they had a lot of chances to score. Sporting had players behind the ball always, to play on the counter-attack.
City produced a disappointing first half performance, and the English side failed to create a clear opening for their prolific striker Agüero.
Meanwhile, Sporting looked dangerous going forward, and they punished their Premier League opponents for a defensive lapse in the 51st minute.
Joe Hart spilled Matías Fernández’s cross into the path of centre-half Xandão, and with the City goalkeeper off his line, the Brazilian defender produced an innovative back heel to hand Sporting a valuable lead.
Mancini introduced Balotelli with twenty minutes remaining, and the Italian striker had a positive impact, causing the Portuguese defence problems.
The 21-year-old first significant contribution was to break into Sporting’s area and deliver a great cross for David Silva, but the Spaniard was unable to guide his shot on target.
In the 89th minute, Agüero was finally able to manufacture some space, breaking past Patricio, but his shot was blocked by the impressive Xandão.
City will travel to the Liberty Stadium to face Swansea City on Sunday, and Mancini insisted their defeat in Portugal will not have a negative impact on their league title challenge.
“I am not worried,” the Italian added. “We will go through in the Europa League and Sunday will be a different game.”