Man City 1 Roma 1: Three talking points as Totti makes history
Man City 1 Roma 1: Three talking points as Francesco Totti becomes the Champions League's oldest goal-scorer
Totti sets European record
If Steven Gerrard needed a role model as the Liverpool captain enters the twilight years of his career, the 34-year-old should look no further than Francesco Totti. Unlike Gerrard, who has been pushed back to a deep-lying midfield role by Brendan Rodgers, the Roma captain remains a focal point for his side up front. Many have dismissed suggestions that Gerrard, in his prime a menace behind Fernando Torres, can play so far up the pitch. But the Roma captain has defied time to survive in the role. Totti, 38, is able to preserve energy using his quickness of thought and experience to compensate for his dwindling pace. It is all about judgement calls. Never the quickest, the former Italy international timed a break past the Manchester City defence to perfect before lifting a classy finish over Joe Hart to level at The Etihad. In doing so, Totti etched his name into the Champions League record books as the Roma talisman became the oldest-ever goal-scorer in the competition aged 38 and three days. It was also his first goal on English soil. In the 15 minutes before and after half-time, Totti was nuisance as the Roma No10 was the chief engineer for the away side. A bit like Gerrard, Totti hasn’t won the volume of silverware that such a loyal and prestigious Roma career deserves. But the Serie A side’s management of this game highlighted that they could be genuine contenders.
Man City need to twist the knife
Manchester United legend Paul Scholes was in mischievous mood in the pre-match build-up on ITV as he suggested that City supporters don’t fully appreciate the Champions League. Taking a leaf out of his predecessor and former team-mate Roy Keane’s manual of antagonism, Scholes argued that the Etihad Stadium crowd failed to generate the type of European night atmospheres found at Anfield and Old Trafford. The Red Devils legend had the makings of a point as highlighted by the first half on Tuesday. City surged into a fifth-minute lead thanks to Sergio Aguero’s penalty but failed to turn the screw. The likes of Liverpool and Manchester United were quick to smell blood during their glorious European campaigns of the last decade, keeping opponents on the back foot. Manuel Pellegrini’s side needed to kick on following Aguero’s goal, but Roma grew in confidence and started to dictate the Group E clash as City struggled to press home their advantage. In turn, the City supporters were anxious and muted as the Serie A runners-up started to threaten. And it was no surprise when Totti conjured a deserved equaliser. It is, disappointingly, an all too familiar Etihad performance in the Champions League.
Having lost in the closing minutes of their opening group-stage match, this was a must-win fixture for City against their direct opponents for the second qualifying spot. The Citizens needed their big names to stand tall against an unbeaten Roma side this season. But in a reoccurring theme in the early weeks of the season, their most influential player, Yaya Toure was disappointing. The Ivory Coast international was lethargic and pedestrian for large parts of the Group E clash. Towering over the likes of Miralem Pjanic, Seydou Keita and Radja Nainggolan, it was Toure who was withdrawn. Whether the 31-year-old still entertains lingering bitterness over a reported blocked summer move or is still peeved by a perceived birthday snub is unclear, but Pellegrini needs to shake his talismanic midfielder into life or risk their season petering out before November.