CSKA Moscow 1 Man City 2: Three talking points

CSKA Moscow 1 Man City 2: Three talking points as the Citizens edge past their Russian opponents in Group E

CSKA Moscow
1
Man City
2

Aguero finding his 2011-12 form

Sergio Aguero looked irrepressible in front of goal throughout most of his first season in the Premier League after sealing a £38m move from Atletico Madrid in 2011. But perhaps after a title-winning goal in the third minute of extra time in the final game of the season in May 2012, Aguero was always going to struggle to hit the same euphoric heights. The 25-year-old struggled with a series of niggles and a lack of form throughout last season but he appears to be back to his clinical best. After he fluffed his first couple of chances against CSKA Moscow, the Argentine was alert to David Silva’s cross and crept ahead of his marker before steering an equaliser past Igor Akinfeev. Aguero completed City’s comeback moments later as he showed bravery to nip in ahead of Akinfeev and glance Álvaro Negredo’s cross into the empty net. It marked his seventh goal in four games – and he will be looking to add to that tally when his club make the trip to Premier League title rivals Chelsea on Sunday.

García is a disaster at centre-half

It’s no secret by now; Javi García is a disaster waiting to happen at centre-half. Manuel Pellegrini’s biggest headache since taking over at City this summer has been fielding a settled centre-half pairing. Captain Vincent Kompany continues to be blighted by persistent injuries, whilst the man signed to provide cover for the Belgian, Martín Demichelis, has yet to pull on a City shirt after picking up a knee problem. It forced Pellegrini’s hand for this trip to Russia as the Chilean started with García alongside Matija Nastasić despite his woeful performance at Cardiff City in August. The former Benfica midfielder was beaten on numerous occasions by Seydou Doumbia and Keisuke Honda in the air, whilst he looked cumbersome dealing with any crosses into Hart’s area. The 26-year-old allowed Zoran Tošić to break free and lift a finish over the City goalkeeper for CSKA’s first-half strike. While Garcia may be good enough to hold off some of the Premier League’s lesser attacking sides in his current position, he’s not up to the grade in the Champions League and Pellegrini needs to tinker with his set-up ahead of Sunday’s trip to Chelsea. An outside shout would be dropping Yaya Toure alongside Natasic – or perhaps play benched Joleon Lescott, even if it means having two left-footed centre-halves. Because that would be madness in comparison to playing a midfielder at centre-back!

It’s a Champions League campaign of firsts for Man City

Much was made of the Arena Khimki pitch ahead of this Champions League clash, with Pellegrini understandably unhappy with the large brown, muddy patches – despite the Russian side’s best efforts to paint the turf green! Whilst there was no real advantage for CSKA who have already played at four different “home” grounds this season, as well as losing on this pitch twice in the Champions League, City seemed most affected in the early stages as they were unable to get their free-flowing style going. It wasn’t until Aguero’s brace, which cancelled out Tošić’s opener, that City really started to pass the ball with an iota of confidence. In what could be a Champions League campaigns of firsts, the Eastlands outfit did manage to secure their inaugural victory in Russia which should go some way to helping them progress out of the group stage for the first time in three attempts. How good are Pellegrini’s men? Well City may be favourites for the Premier League title with arguably the strongest squad in the English top flight, but the Citizens still need to improve, especially in Europe. And García can’t continue at centre-half!

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