Manchester City's Vincent Kompany hails hat-trick hero Sergio Aguero after 3-2 win against Bayern Munich
Manchester City 3-2 Bayern Munich
Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany hailed "special" Sergio Aguero as a player who can make the impossible possible following the Argentina striker's stunning Champions League hat-trick in a 3-2 win against Bayern Munich.
City looked on course to suffer another European body blow after goals from Xabi Alonso and Robert Lewandowski saw Bayern overturn Aguero's penalty and give the Bundesliga side a 2-1 half-time lead.
Bayern, despite losing Mehdi Benatia to a red card in the 20th minute, maintained that advantage until five minutes from time but then Aguero sensationally snatched all three points for City with two goals - the winner coming in stoppage time.
The hat-trick continued Aguero's superb goalscoring form for City this season and Kompany admitted they were fortunate to have the 26-year-old in their ranks.
He told ITV: "If you want to succeed at anything, you need a special player in a special form, otherwise you just don't win anything.
"He's our special player and when he's in that form he makes things achievable that otherwise wouldn't be."
Aguero added: "I'm very happy for us, the three points are very important. It was difficult but we are happy because this game was very important. It was a game we had to win."
Manager Manuel Pellegrini also lauded City's hat-trick hero, but had praise for the rest of his team as well.
He said: "I think that all the big teams need big players and Sergio is a big player, a top player, and he's very important.
"But I think the whole team continued playing with trust until the end today.
"The two goals that Bayern scored were unbelievable, but the whole team continued having trust in our work and our play until the end."
The result leaves City level on five points with Roma and CSKA Moscow in Group E as they look to join already-qualified Bayern in the last 16.
On his side's chances, Pellegrini said: "We're always feeling positive, but it doesn't just depend on what we can do.
"We must try to have our chance until the end and the best way to have a chance is to try and beat Roma."
Frank Lampard and Fernando were deployed in a five-man midfield as Manchester City attempted to revive their Champions League fortunes.
The pair replaced the suspended Yaya Toure and Fernandinho while James Milner also came in and Sergio Aguero started up front alone. Manager Manuel Pellegrini also made two defensive changes at the Etihad Stadium as Eliaquim Mangala and Bacary Sagna featured.
CSKA Moscow's draw with Roma in Group E's other match meant the game was theoretically not a must-win encounter, but with just two points from four previous fixtures, City were anxious for a positive result.
City responded by making a lively start. Jesus Navas picked out the run of Samir Nasri with a superb through ball and the Frenchman looked threatening as he checked back to shoot, although his effort was blocked.
Gael Clichy maintained the positive start with a quick charge down the left but his cross for Frank Lampard was slightly overhit.
Bayern also had some prolonged spells of possession. Even without players such as Phillip Lahm, David Alaba, Javi Martinez, Holger Badstuber and Thiago Alcantara, and Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Muller and Mario Gotze on the bench, they looked dangerous.
Arjen Robben was typically full of running and flicked a superb pass into the box for Sebastian Rode to test Joe Hart at point-blank range.
Robben then drove a shot wide before breaking down the left to set up Rafinha, whose low drive was blocked by Eliaquim Mangala.
It proved a critical intervention as Lampard released Aguero with a fine long pass.
The Argentinian raced into the area and looked to have the better of Benatia before the Moroccan brought him down with an ill-timed challenge.
Czech referee Pavel Kralovec did not hurry his decision but correctly pointed to the spot and showed the red card to Benatia.
Aguero's spot-kick was clinical and Lampard went close to hitting a second soon after with a shot that flew narrowly wide from a well-worked free-kick.
But Bayern quickly readjusted to the loss of a man, with Rode sacrificed for Dante and Alonso commanding more of the ball to dictate play.
The former Liverpool and Real Madrid schemer started to edge his battle with old foe Lampard and showed his eye for goal with a superb free-kick.
Lewandowski was brought down by Mangala on the edge of the box after 40 minutes and Alonso caught Hart unawares by calmly stroking a low shot past the wall and into the bottom corner.
City were behind before they had time to regroup as their former player Jerome Boateng, scorer against them in September, again undid them.
Boateng floated in a cross that dipped over Vincent Kompany and Lewandowski outmuscled Bacary Sagna to send the ball looping into the net off his shoulder.
It might have got worse for City early in the second half as Alonso drove Bayern forward again and exchanged passes with Franck Ribery before curling over.
City rallied with Navas shooting at Manuel Neuer and James Milner going close.
Lampard brought the best out of Neuer as the Germany World Cup-winning goalkeeper produced a fine one-handed save to deny the former England midfielder from the edge of the area.
Substitute Pablo Zabaleta had an effort blocked and Kompany stabbed wide after going forward for a corner.
Despite that, the game looked to be drifting away from City when Alonso misplaced a pass and Aguero broke clear to tuck a low shot past Neuer.
City suddenly found an extra gear and when Boateng was hurried into a clearance in the last minute, Aguero was on hand again to pounce and beat Neuer from close range.
The transformation could mark a turning point for City in Europe, but there is still work to be done in Rome.
Belfast Telegraph Digital