Joe Hart said tonight that Manchester City showed their true character with a defining 2-0 win away in Rome to secure second place in Champions League Group E and a place in the last-16 of the competition.
Defeat for CSKA Moscow, who lost 3-0 to Bayern Munich in Germany meant that City finished second behind the German champions on eight points with their best performance to date in the group stages. Hart said that the victory showed the resolve of the squad and a team that was without its four biggest names at the start of the game, the suspended Yaya Toure and the injured Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany. David Silva was a second half substitute.
Hart said: "First of all I've got to say it was a great effort from the fans, Rome is a difficult place to come but Samir [Nasri] made their night for them.
"People wrote us off without our key players but we're a strong unit, we believed in what we could do. You don't win two Premier League titles in three years easily. We have resolve, character and fantastic players, add that together and you've got a chance."
Manuel Pellegrini said that the result proved that City could survive without top goalscorer Aguero, who will miss up to eight weeks. Pellegrini said: “It’s not relief. After we beat Bayern I knew we had a good chance. I’m very happy because we beat a good team and played well from the beginning to the end. I trust in the players and the squad deserves more credit. We are more than just Kun [Aguero]. This team is more than just one player.
“We have a lot of different critics. Last time we qualified with many  points but played Barcelona and had a player sent off [and were eliminated in the second round]. This year against the Russian team [CSKA] we drew a game and that was important but we recovered and we are playing the same way in the Premier League and the Champions League.
Manchester City player ratings vs Roma
“I think the two centre halves played very well. Martin Demichelis is experienced and [Eliaquim] Mangala we bought because he is a good player. He had some problems but I trust him and they both played very well. We are a compete team defending and attacking.
“We will see in February what happens. We are not trying to send messages to people. We must forget about the Champions League now. We have important games in the Premier League and that is as important, maybe it is more important. We have to beat Leicester.”
Pellegrini said that he hoped Kompany would be fit for the game at the weekend and was not risked against Roma. Nasri, who scored the first goal, said: "I think the performance of the team was amazing. It was important for me to score, after the surgery I took a while to get to my full level, now I am. With Yaya Toure and Kun Aguero missing, It was important to show we were a team and we did it. At 1-0 the save Joe Hart made was amazing."
City will face one of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Porto, Monaco, Borussia Dortmund or Atletico Madrid in the next round.
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