Gomez pounces to punish City on horror night for Mancini
Bayern Munich 2 Manchester City 0
Manchester City's pitiful night had descended into torture and the Bayern Munich supporters had launched into "football's coming home" in perfect, ironic English when Carlos Tevez performed his most mystifying action of all. He condescended to step onto the pitch for the first time, when the final whistle had sounded, to swap shirts with the opposition captain Philipp Lahm.
And what will that shirt remind him of, if it adorns a cabinet some distant day? This was the night when Tevez's position as a malign force at a club which has indulged him was laid bare and – if City see sense and adhere to their manager's preferred course of action – the night when his association with them is severed for good. The fans' patience is spent. The shirt – and the player – should be consigned to the bin.
Champions League defeats do have a habit of bringing out the emotion in Roberto Mancini. It was after Internazionale's quarter-final defeat to Rafael Benitez's Liverpool in March 2008 that he declared he would quit as coach at San Siro. For the first time last night, we also saw something other the usual air of cool insouciance and calculation. It is no exaggeration to say that he did not look terribly far from tears of frustration and by the end it was monologue. He ignored the quite reasonable question of how he felt, to conclude his point on Tevez. "Do you think at Bayern Munich a player can behave like this, at Milan, at Manchester United. No. This is the answer....."
There was some resonance in those words, since last night revealed a gulf of other sorts between City and some of the clubs Mancini cited. Tevez was not the only player who exhibited the considerable difference between a rich source of talent and rich vein of spirit. Almost as damaging to Mancini was his players' failure to rouse themselves to the slightest degree when the cards collapsed. David Silva has been one of the most scintillating players of the domestic campaign and Sergio Aguero looks capable of being one of the world game's prime forces. Both were among City's many invisible men.
It is too early to write off City's European campaign but the gulf in class last night was far greater than Bayern revealed when eliminating United at the quarter final stage two years ago. Mario Gomez, who scored both goals last night, also destroyed United with the tackle that put Wayne Rooney out after two minutes. But that's where the comparisons stop. United did not go so gently into the Bavarian night.
It always looked like an unsparing kind of reckoning to face so soon - City's fans three tiers up in the gods really thinking they were not "really here", in the words of their favourite song. And down on the pitch, as the Oktoberfest revelries melted far away into the warm Munich evening, a bouncing, cacophonous kind of pressure. Even Malcolm Allison, the man who boasted that City would "scare Europe to death" when they last played away in this tournament 43 years ago, would have felt it.
City's players actually started with an ebullience and character far removed from last season's diffidence. The aura of Bayern's nine-game winning run looked nothing as they attacked the home side and were deprived what looked like two reasonable first-half penalties. The game was barely two minutes old when Samir Nasri seemed to have his legs taken by Jérôme Boateng as he raced to the touchline to take a threaded ball from Silva. Boateng's heavy challenge on Micah Richards in the area about 20 minutes later also had Mancini dancing in early frustration.
Dzeko might have ended goalkeeper Manuel Neuer's near 900-minutes without conceding had he managed to get more power to a header from Richards' cross and the sight of, first, Gareth Barry, then Nasri easing the ball comfortably past Luiz Gustavo into the Bayern area seemed to presage a breakthrough. City were making a statement.
But just as they seemed ready to deliver a message to the continent, they were undone by their own ambition, which left them seriously stretched. Franck Ribéry has set up more goals in the Bundesliga this season than any other player and the shocking aspect of Bayern's two goals in seven minutes was that his threat would have been drilled into City's players.
Richards' forays down the German right created the space for the Frenchman to leave Barry standing and cross to serve up a first, gilt-edged opportunity. Ribéry was also in acres of space – and Richards 30 yards adrift – when Thomas Muller crossed for Bastian Schweinsteiger who lifted his shot over the bar from just six yards out. There was inevitability about the way Ribéry eventually advanced again on Joe Hart again, who saved brilliantly, then pushed away Muller's effort on the rebound, only for Gomez to tidy things up. "It was a stupid goal," Mancini sighed. "I explained to the guys for four days the movement that Ribéry usually does – going inside – and said pay attention."
City had barely regrouped when Hart's acrobatics fell desperately short of saving the side from the predatory instincts of Gomez once again. Toni Kroos bent in a free-kick from the left which Daniel van Buyten flicked goalwards and though Hart pushed the ball away Gomez again reacted first. Hart got something on his shot, but not enough.
The Nigel de Jong substitution which so frustrated Tevez was perfectly justified – Bayern were threatening to sweep City away straight after the interval – and his refusal to join proceedings was significant. Substitutes Aleksandar Kolarov and James Milner's efforts represented City's only shot on target in a miserable second half. Ribéry's dead ball delivery from the left was again too much for City's defence and Gomez's leap and deft header required a diving fingertip save. Sir Alex Ferguson last defeat to Bayern concluded with his talk of "typical Germans." For Mancini, it could only be "typical City."
Man of the match Gomez.
Match rating 6/10.
Referee V Kassai (Hungary).
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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