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.

Arts and Entertainment
TVShow's twee, safe facade smashed by ice cream melting scandal
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Actor, model and now record breaker: Jiff the Pomeranian
Video
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
News
i100
News
Down time: an employee of Google uses the slide to get to the canteen
scienceBosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?