Samir Nasri sends Manchester City into the last 16
Manchester City reach knockout stage of the Champions League with a little help from Bayern Munich
Roma 0 Manchester City 2. Two second half goals in Rome helped Manchester City into the last 16 of the Champions League, although the English champions had to rely on the result going their way in Bayern Munich.
Such was closeness of Group E that going into the final round of group matches either one of City, Roma and CSKA Moscow could all have qualified behind Bayern.
City, who failed to win any of their first four matches, needed to triumph in the Italian capital and rely on the German champions to beat visitors CSKA.
Bayern had no trouble easing past the Russians 3-0, and City also had a comfortable win in the end against Roma thanks to goals from Samir Nasri and Pablo Zabaleta. Though the pair will take the plaudits, the real hero for City was goalkeeper Joe Hart who earlier had made two fine saves from Gervinho and Kostas Manolas.
It was an impressive win for a City side that had travelled to Rome without the injured pair of Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero, or the suspended Yaya Toure, and one that manager Manuel Pellegrini believes should be lauded by the British press. "This team deserves a little bit more credit than the press gives us," said the Chilean. "Trust has been key. I had a lot of trust in what we could do."
Asked about how far City could go in the competition now that they have qualified for the knockout phase, Pellegrini replied: “We will start thinking about this again in February."
City’s England midfielder James Milner was more forthcoming on the same subject, telling reporters: “We'll take it step by step, but I definitely think the quality's there to go far in this competition. This team responds when we need to win games. We did it to win the Premier League and we've done it again in the Champions League…and to do it with a number of injuries, shows you what quality there is in the squad.”
City follow Arsenal into Monday’s draw for the last 16 as second-place finishers in their group, but Chelsea progress as group winners following their 3-1 defeat of Sporting Lisbon at Stamford Bridge. Cesc Fabregas put the Blues one up on eight minutes from the penalty spot and Andre Schurrle doubled the advantage a few minutes later. Though Sporting pulled one back thanks to Jonathan Silva, John Mikel Obi made it 3-1 in the second half as Chelsea finished six points clear of Schalke at the top of Group G. “The real Champions League starts now,” declared Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho’s after the victory. “Barcelona are there, Real Madrid are there, Bayern are there, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Dortmund, Paris, everyone is there….let's see what we can do this season, step by step.”