For once, City benefit from the odd goal

They had trouble with a side 13th in 'La Liga'. Not a great advert for the Premier League

Never a team, or a club, to do things by halves, Manchester City tend in continental competition to have either a protracted run or last no time at all. For a good while last night, this season's great adventure looked destined to be in the latter category and it took an own goal and then a controversial winner in the 93rd minute to revive their prospects of something more enticing than another shot at the Europa League.

Four times in their first seven seasons after Malcolm Allison's promise to "terrify" Europe, the great unpredictables went out at the first attempt, on either side of going all the way and lifting the 1970 Cup-Winners' Cup. More recently, with group stages added to guarantee greater income, they have progressed to knockout stages, then lost out by away goals or the odd goal – occasionally, this being City, a very odd one.

The oddity benefited them last night, Villarreal's captain and centre-half Carlos Marchena obligingly guiding into his own net one of the many excellent crosses by Aleksandar Kolarov, whose goal from a direct free-kick had been City's only one in the two previous group matches against Napoli and Bayern Munich. Those games in their different ways had shown how overblown was Roberto Mancini's description of his club this week as "one of the best teams in the world"; the Italians exposed them on the break here, the Germans overwhelmed them in a manner obscured by Carlos Tevez's mutiny on the bench.

Earlier in this crucial match, Mancini's team again contributed to their own downfall, a defensive lapse by David Silva and a ring-rusty Nigel de Jong leading to an opening goal for the visitors. Insult was added by Giuseppe Rossi, the New Jersey Italian who won a League Cup medal with Manchester United, playing an important part in it. The heavens immediately opened, as they have a habit of doing here, and for a time it was wet enough for Villarreal's yellow submarine.

The designated "singing section" of the stadium went quiet for a time, and with Villarreal's support having apparently arrived in a minibus, individual Lancashire voices could be heard expressing their disapproval. Even after a belated spell of pressure, the brutal removal of Adam Johnson and an equaliser, noise levels were subdued, the failure to penetrate the yellow ranks, plus an occasional threatening counter-attack adding to a sense of unease.

It is one thing knocking four goals past Blackburn Rovers or Aston Villa, the crowd seemed to be realising, another besting even a side lying 13th in La Liga with only one win so far – not a great advert for the Premier League. Villarreal's coach, Juan Carlos Garrido, appointed from the reserves 20 months ago, is on the sort of run that would have most managers concerned about their employment status. Sergio Aguero's late, late intervention left him cursing the kind of luck that costs good men their jobs.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific