CSKA Moscow vs Manchester City: Manuel Pellegrini admits his team froze as they blow hot then cold in Russia

City boss alluded to cold weather but did not want to use it as an excuse

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The Independent Football

Manuel Pellegrini last night admitted there could be no excuses for his Manchester City side after they sacrificed two points to leave their Champions League campaign in the balance – though he initially suggested the cold conditions had contributed.

The City manager twice alluded to the sub-zero temperatures as a problem – and so did goalkeeper Joe Hart, in his own post-match interview – but the manager later said that he did not want to use the temperatures as an excuse.

Asked how City had conspired to let CSKA Moscow back into the game, which City had led 2-0 at half-time, Pellegrini said: “We didn’t play well in the second half.

“Maybe it was so cold it was very difficult for the players to continue to have motivation for the whole game. It seemed so easy in the first half. We played very well in the first half, but maybe it was too cold in the second half.”

Hart said the cold conditions had only been detrimental in the first half. “It was really cold in the first half, when having the wind in your face made a big change, but the second half was fine,” he said.

City have made an official appeal to Uefa, the European game’s governing body, over the presence of around 300 raucous CSKA Moscow supporters at a game in which they were supposed to have been denied entry, as punishment for racist conduct in previous games.

Uefa observers videoed the supporters and their investigation will centre on the distribution of the 300 tickets made available to their own partner organisations.  Of the 650 tickets circulated, each club received 75, the ball boys and their families took 50 of them, the media were allocated 150 and another 300 were circulated to Uefa partners and sponsors.

Pellegrini said he “agreed” that the presence of the home club’s fans might have persuaded the referee to award CSKA’s late penalty, which resulted in their equaliser.

But neither the controversy concerning the presence of home fans nor the awarding of the penalty, could obscure the way his side fell away in the second half. Pellegrini declined to discuss the penalty and would not talk about why his side look so much weaker in Europe than in the Premier League.

“I don’t want to analyse [our European performances] at this moment,” he said.

“When we finish the group then we can make conclusions about what we think about our participation in the Champions League. Maybe there was an excess of trust [in how secure we were tonight]. We allowed CSKA to grow. They didn’t have clear chances but the chances they had they took.”

He admitted that City must win their last three games – at home to Moscow and Bayern Munich, and then away to Roma on 10 December. 

“Well, of course [we must],” he said. “Now we have three more games. I hope you see the team you saw in the first 45 minutes. We have lots more to fight for and we will fight until the end.”