Manchester City vs CSKA Moscow: Manuel Pellegrini can't understand 'nervous' performance

Manchester City manager said his team 'didn't play' in shock defeat

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The Independent Online

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini offered no excuses after his nine-man team slumped to a dismal 2-1 Champions League loss to CSKA Moscow.

Midfielders Fernandinho and Yaya Toure were both sent off as City suffered one of their worst nights in four seasons of playing in the competition.

Pellegrini might have had reason to complain about the dismissal of Fernandinho as well as two rejected late Sergio Aguero penalty appeals, but he accepted his team had again failed to deliver.

The result leaves City bottom of Group E with just two points and facing a mountain to climb to reach the next stage with remaining games against Bayern Munich and Roma.

Asked for his opinions on the moments of controversy, Pellegrini said in his post-match press conference: "I think it is not my duty to analyse the referee's performance. It is your duty to decide if he made a good decision or bad decision.

"Today the difference was not just the mistakes of the referee. I think we cannot play the way we played today if we want to win.

"I don't want to have any excuse about the way we played. That's why I don't want to link the referee with the result."

City had gone into the game with some optimism after ending a three-game winless streak with a morale-boosting derby win over Manchester United at the weekend.

But their familiar problems in Europe again came to the fore and Pellegrini was puzzled by the lack of spark from his side.

City fell behind within a minute to a firm Seydou Doumbia header and the same player struck again after Toure hit a fine free-kick equaliser.

Pellegrini said: "It is difficult to understand why we played so low a performance. We have just played a good game here against Manchester United.

"We have all our chances to win here at home and play a normal way but when you give two easy goals in the first half and you really don't play with the ball, it is very difficult to win.

"We are in a bad moment with the performance but the only way is to try and arrange is to continue working and work out why there is a lack of trust with the players.

"Normally we are a very disciplined team so for me it is more important we return to our normal performance."

Pellegrini refused to rule out the possibility that his team could still qualify for the last 16.

The Chilean said: "If you have the mathematical option to qualify, you must fight for them. We must first try to play against QPR, then we have the international break and then we are going to try to qualify for the next stage. It is more difficult but it is not impossible."

Pellegrini also revealed captain Vincent Kompany took a kick to the calf late in the game and would be assessed on Thursday.

Toure later used his recently restored Twitter account to apologise for his sending off.

"City fans - I am sorry for my red card. I feel it is important to apologise for this," he wrote.

The match was played against a backdrop of ill feeling between the clubs.

This stemmed back to their meeting in Russia last year which was marred by racist chanting at Toure. There was further controversy when last month's game was officially played behind closed doors but attended by around 300 CSKA fans.

Asked if he took greater satisfaction from the result given the past problems between the clubs, CSKA coach Leonid Slutsky said: "Yes, of course."

Slutsky was also asked if he was surprised his side won so comfortably but he answered with a firm, "It wasn't easy".

He did feel, however, feel that his side had unnerved City.

He said: "The fact there were two red cards awarded makes us feel we had the players very nervous and that is why they got those cards."

Slutsky felt his team executed their gameplan perfectly, although he thought City's recent schedule might have taken its toll on the hosts.

He said: "We hoped for counter-attack and our plan worked. We had chances in the first and second half and we are happy our plan worked.

"But they had a very serious match against Manchester United at the weekend and probably they didn't have time to recover. We had one day more to recover."

One other contentious note from the game was the absence of CSKA's Serbian winger Zoran Tosic due to visa problems.

CSKA media director Sergey Aksenov said: "He had a transit visa. The British authorities thought it was enough. They thought he would be working here, not playing for CSKA.

"We tried to do our best. We approached the Russian embassy and the embassy of Serbia asking them for help but the final decision was for him not to be here and he was sent back before the match."

PA

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