Belfast Telegraph

Samir Nasri insists Manchester City proved they can conquer Europe

By Andy Hampson

Samir Nasri hopes his match-winning display for Manchester City in Rome has helped announce the club's arrival on the big stage.

Nasri struck a stunning opening goal as City overcame adversity to reach the Champions League knockout stages with a brilliant 2-0 win over Roma in the Stadio Olimpico.

Progress to the last 16 had seemed unlikely after a dismal home loss to CSKA Moscow a month ago but the dramatic turnaround since has suggested City can now make their mark among Europe's elite.

Nasri was delighted to have played his part in the Italian capital, first by smashing home a long-range shot off a post on the hour and then teeing up a second goal for Pablo Zabaleta.

The 27-year-old said: "This one was really important for us to qualify, for our ambition in Europe and to show the world that we are a big team.

"It was a great strike. I saw it back in the dressing room and I should try it more often."

City collected only two points from their opening four Group E fixtures and qualification only really became a possibility after staging a dramatic late fightback to beat Bayern Munich in their penultimate game.

Even then the odds remained against them as they went into the final match level on points with both Roma and CSKA.

They needed a positive result and a favour from Bayern against CSKA. The odds also lengthened as they went into the game at an intimidating Olimpico without key players Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and David Silva in their starting line-up.

Nasri said: "We showed we are a team. When Kompany, Toure and Aguero are not there, I think for any other team it would be really difficult but we showed we could do it."

Those sentiments were echoed by goalkeeper Joe Hart.

Hart said: "We can't get away from that fact, they are four players who would get into most teams in the world. But we have always shown we are a strong squad and that's how you win things."

Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Monaco and Porto are the potential opponents City could be handed in next Monday's draw.

Hart, 27, said: "The draw is going to take care of itself. It is what it is and we are just happy we are in it.

"We are confident we can do well against anyone but it is Leicester next and we have to turn our eyes to that. That's our next big game."

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