Belfast Telegraph

European dream ends as Man City made to pay price

AS Monaco 3 Manchester City 1 (6-6 on aggregate; Monaco win on away goals)

By Jack Pitt-Brooke

For seven giddy second-half minutes, Manchester City were going through to the quarter-finals.

They had recovered from an abject first half, and Leroy Sane's finish with 20 minutes left dragged the score back to 2-1 down, enough for City to progress.

But their defensive softness cost them when Tiemoue Bakayoko headed in a free-kick, winning Monaco the match 3-1 and the 6-6 tie on away goals.

"First half, we forget to be there," said Pep Guardiola (below). "We are a team, we want to defend aggressively without the ball. The second half we were much better but it is not enough.

"Normally we play until the time we are level but for now we didn't.

"We'll learn - we are a team with not a lot of experience in this competition. At that level when you concede the way we play the first 45 minutes it is so difficult.

"Second half we had the chances to score a lot of goals but we didn't and that's why we're out.

"I think we'll improve. We're going to try - this competition is so demanding and sometimes you have to be lucky in that moment and we were not that."

Defender John Stones added: "I think we were very sloppy, not up to our usual standards at all in the first half.

"We thought the second half didn't reflect the full scoreline. We weren't the City everyone knows as how we've been playing all season.

"I thought we should have scored more goals. It's a difficult one for us to take - after the first game, how we came back we're thoroughly disappointed."

This was never going to be as good as the first leg but it was still an enthralling back and forth, and one that Monaco deserved to win.

They destroyed City in one of the most one-sided first halves seen in a recent Champions League knock-out tie.

Even without Radamel Falcao, Monaco played with so much speed, energy and bristling intent that City could not live with them. Kylian Mbappe and Valere Germain set the tempo up front, but the two full-backs Djibirl Sidibe and Benjamin Mendy were just as good, as were Fabinho and Bakayoko in midfield.

City simply could not get a foot-hold in the game. It did not matter how good their ball-players were when they were forcibly forbidden from stringing two passes together. Every time they tried, a Monaco shirt intervened.

It was no surprise when Monaco took the lead. Mbappe had just forced a good save from Willy Caballero after Fernandinho was pushed off the ball. The ball went left, Mendy's cross was blocked, but Bernardo Silva's flew to the near post where Mbappe put it in.

As the barrage continued, another sharp move gave Mendy the ball on the left. Again he was free to get his cross in. It flew to Fabinho, unmarked, and he slotted his first-time finish in. Monaco had turned the tie around before the half-hour mark.

Following a tactical switch that saw Kevin de Bruyne drop back alongside Fernandinho to give City more stability in the middle, suddenly it was the visitors who looked like scoring every attack.

The dam eventually broke when De Bruyne darted another diagonal to Raheem Sterling out on the right. He cut straight inside and tested Subasic with a left-footed shot. Sane reacted fastest to the rebound, hitting it into the roof of the net.

There followed the gleeful seven minutes when City were heading through to the quarter-finals, but as Monaco started to push back, City started to lose their discipline.

They conceded silly free-kicks and when De Bruyne pulled down Fabinho, Monaco had a chance.

Thomas Lemar whipped in the free-kick and Bakayoko got behind Kolarov, unmarked, to head in the ball at the near post. City tried to get their second but never had enough.

Monaco: Subasic, Sidibe, Raggi (Toure, 70 mins) Jemerson, Mendy, Fabinho, Bakayoko, Lemar, Bernardo Silva, Germain (Dirar, 90 mins), Mbappe-Lottin (Joao Moutinho, 81 mins). Unused subs: De Sanctis, Jorge, Irvin Cardona, Diallo.

Man City: Caballero, Sagna, Stones, Clichy (Iheanacho, 84 mins), Kolarov, Sane, Fernandinho, Silva, De Bruyne, Aguero, Sterling. Unused subs: Bravo, Zabaleta, Jesus Navas, Delph, Otamendi, Toure.

Man of the Match: Bakayoko

Match rating: 8/10

Referee: Gianluca Rocchi (Italy)

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph