Totti leaves Man City tottering as Hart slip hands Roma a point
City can only draw at home against Italians and could face group stage elimination once again
Manchester City 1 Roma 1. Manchester City's chances of progressing to the knockout stages of the Champions League hang by a thread after the Premier League champions were held 1-1 at home to Roma. The Italian side secured a precious point at the Etihad thanks to a goal from veteran striker Francesco Totti, who at 38 and three days becomes the oldest player to score in the tournament, eclipsing the previous record held by Ryan Giggs of Manchester United since 2011.
Totti's effort on 23 minutes cancelled out Sergio Aguero's penalty, awarded to City after four minutes when the Argentine striker was impeded in the Roma penalty area by defender Maicon. Aguero made no mistake with the spot kick and City manager Manuel Pellegrini had the start he wished for as his side chased the victory they needed to keep within sight of Bayern Munich.
The German giants – who beat City 1-0 on the opening night of the Champions League – had earlier in the day secured an away win against CSKA Moscow with a penalty from Thomas Muller, and as a result the English side knew they couldn't afford to drop any points against Roma.
But the Italians, even without the injured midfield duo of Kevin Strootman and Daniele de Rossi, troubled the City defence with their pace and energy. Former Chelsea defender Ashley Cole also caught the eye for the visitors and their equaliser was nothing less than they deserved, though it required a spot of luck nonetheless. A slip from Joe Hart, restored to the City goal, as he came off his line, gave Totti the fraction of a second he needed to pick his spot after being put through by a deft pass from Radja Nainggolan.
Both sides had opportunities in the second period – Hart saved well from Miralem Pjanic and substitute Frank Lampard forced Lukasz Skorupski to get down low to block his effort – but a draw was the right result on a night when City once again struggled to make an impression in Europe.
Having failed to qualify from the group stages for the past three seasons, the Sky Blues have one point from their first two matches and are now five points behind group leaders Bayern, and three behind Roma.
"Whether we qualify depends on how we play the next games," declared Pellegrini in a statement of the bleedin' obvious variety. That won't be easy. City's next challenge is a trip to Moscow on Tuesday 21 October, and as Bayern discovered in their hard-fought 1-0 victory yesterday, CSKA at home are a stiffer proposition than they are away.
"I think the draw is a result that is a real reflection of what happened here. The biggest problem we had was that we lost too many easy passes," reflected Pellegrini. "Roma's performance was not a surprise to me because they are a team in form with great players. It was a difficult game but I still think we could have won it in the last 20 minutes."