Belfast Telegraph

Manchester City in confident mood after Euro drama

By Simon Stone

Manchester City midfielder Gareth Barry believes the dramatic Champions League win over Villarreal has provided a “massive confidence booster” for Sunday's Manchester derby.

City will now cross town to face arch rivals Manchester United buoyed by their status as Barclays Premier League leaders and after winning in Europe's elite club competition for the first time.

Roberto Mancini's men were not at their most potent against the Spanish side at the Etihad on Tuesday but completed their comeback from a goal down by snatching a 2-1 win with a stoppage-time Sergio Aguero winner.

Barry said: “A last-minute goal can lift everyone — it is a massive confidence booster.

“We will just go into Sunday's game, knowing it is a massive one, with a little bit more confidence.

“But it is not a place you can go and relax — we have got to go and play our best game of the season to get something out of it.

“We respect Manchester United and hopefully it will be a good game.”

The derby is being billed as the game of the season so far with both clubs having made outstanding starts.

Both are still unbeaten but it is City who just have their noses in front at the moment, leading their neighbours by two points.

City have won seven of their eight games and scored 27 goals while United are just behind them with six wins and 25 goals.

City's form in Europe, however, has been in marked contrast with a draw against Napoli and a loss to Bayern Munich in their opening two Group A games followed by another indifferent performance last night.

Villarreal struck first through Cani at the Etihad Stadium and defended resolutely until Carlos Marchena diverted the ball into his own goal for an equaliser.

The hosts were still unable to find a spark and it looked like being another night of frustration until substitute Aguero intervened with 93 minutes on the clock.

That goal changed the complexion of the group and, although still third, City are just three points behind leaders Bayern at the halfway stage.

Emotions ran high after Aguero's winner — after which there was barely time to restart — with Mancini punching the air repeatedly and Villarreal players confronting officials.

Aguero was also later accused, in the Spanish media, of mocking the opposition by Marchena and Villarreal vice-president Jose Manuel Llaneza — something the Argentinian used his Twitter account to deny.

The 23-year-old wrote: “I have no interest in getting involved in controversies, but I have to deny having mocked a Villarreal player.

“Everyone can attest to my discipline and professionalism, I wouldn't do something like that.”

City could also face action from European governing body UEFA after Villarreal player Borja Valero was pelted with paper balls while taking a corner.

City fans had scrunched up and thrown the pieces of paper they had been handed to form a display prior to kick-off.

A UEFA spokesman said: “Action is always possible depending on reports from the referee or match delegates or from any other evidence such as TV.”

And he added: “But we have not yet analysed the reports.”

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