Roma vs Manchester City: Samir Nasri takes delight in Rome 'miracle' after City keep Champions League dream alive

Nasri scored a stunning opener to pave the way for a famous City victory that sees them through to the last-16

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The Independent Online

Samir Nasri hailed a miracle after inspiring Manchester City to a brilliant victory over Roma that prolonged their Champions League campaign against the odds.

French playmaker Nasri struck a stunning first goal as City completed a remarkable escape from the group stage with a 2-0 win in the fevered atmosphere of the Stadio Olimpico.

City looked to be heading out of the competition before they staged a brilliant comeback against Bayern Munich in their penultimate Group E game just over two weeks ago.

Their chances nosedived again when they lost the driving force for their recent upturn in form, Sergio Aguero, to injury but City made light of his absence and those of Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure.

 

Their unexpected win in the Italian capital, completed by Pablo Zabaleta after 86 minutes, saw City edge ahead of both Roma and CSKA Moscow to snatch a place in the last 16.

"It feels great," Nasri told City TV. "It was the target at the start of the night and we knew if we were patient we would win the game.

"We are happy because it was a miracle after four games, when we had two points. But it is always the same with City, we like to do it the hard way and we did it again."

City were second best for most of the first half and were fortunate to escape damage early on as Roma, inspired by former Arsenal forward Gervinho, tore into them.

With goalkeeper Joe Hart outstanding, they managed to survive and went ahead on the hour when Nasri hit a powerful long-range shot that flew in off the near post.

Roma hit the post themselves through Kostas Manolas and Martin Demichelis cleared off the line from Mattia Destro in a spirited response.

But it was to no avail and City ensured progress when Nasri held the ball up in the area and teed up a second goal for the inrushing Zabaleta as time ran down.

Samir-Nasri-2.jpg
Nasri celebrates his goal against Roma

Manager Manuel Pellegrini claimed he was always confident that his team could deliver despite the daunting-looking nature of the fixture.

Pellegrini said: "It is not relief because I think we always trusted - especially after we beat Bayern Munich - that we would have a lot of chances to qualify here.

"I am very happy because we won against a very difficult team in a difficult stadium. We played very well from the beginning of the game."

Pellegrini has had some critics this season, especially after defeat to CSKA at home a month ago left City on the brink of elimination.

But the situation has now turned around dramatically, with their six wins in succession in all competitions also bringing them right back into the Barclays Premier League title race.

The Chilean denied he looked at success in Rome as sending out a message to anyone and immediately turned thoughts back to domestic matters.

He said: "We recovered and I think we are playing in exactly the same way in the Champions League as the Premier League and you can see that in the last two games against Bayern and Roma.

"We are not trying to send any kind of message to anybody. We are just happy because we qualified for the next stage. That was our target.

"But from tomorrow morning we must forget about the Champions League because we do not have to play until February. We must focus our mind now on trying to beat Leicester on Saturday."

PA

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