City ends Bay­ern’s great run

Pel­le­grini’s squad read­ies for Arse­nal by stun­ning ti­tle­holder in Mu­nich

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Mu­nich

Manch­ester City coach Manuel Pel­le­grini ad­mit­ted keep­ing his stars fresh for Satur­day’s Pre­mier League visit from leader Arse­nal was a fac­tor in its stun­ning 3-2 win at Bay­ern Mu­nich.

On a his­toric night for the club, City fought back from two goals down to break the ti­tle­holder’s record 10-match Cham­pi­ons League win­ning streak as Bay­ern coach Pep Guardi­ola suf­fered his first de­feat in ma­jor com­pe­ti­tions with the Ger­man side.

Bay­ern also fell to its first home de­feat — af­ter 18 wins in Mu­nich — since los­ing 2-0 at home to Arse­nal in last sea­son’s knock­out stages of the Cham­pi­ons League in March.

With both teams al­ready through to the knock­out stages, City avenged a 3-1 de­feat to Bay­ern at Eti­had Sta­dium in Oc­to­ber but still fin­ished sec­ond to the Ger­mans in Group D with both teams at 15 points.

City winger James Mil­ner com­pleted the fairy-tale come­back by notch­ing the win­ner in the 62nd minute.

Pel­le­grini brought on Span­ish striker Al­varo Ne­gredo for David Silva, back from a calf in­jury, for the fi­nal 20 min­utes, but the Chilean ad­mit­ted his think­ing had been as much about Arse­nal as chas­ing a fourth goal.

“It was im­por­tant for us to get the fourth goal, but it would also have been a risk of con­tin­u­ing play­ing with Silva,” said the City coach.

“It was im­por­tant for us to be at the top of the group, but we also have a big game on Satur­day and it was not the most im­por­tant thing.”

Re­mark­ably, City pulled off the vic­tory over the de­fend­ing cham­pion af­ter start­ing with first-string for­wards Ser­gio Aguero and Ne­gredo, plus cap­tain Vin­cent Kom­pany on the bench.

“It’s an im­por­tant vic­tory for the club, not just for me,” said Pel­le­grini, who later said on tele­vi­sion he was not aware a 4-2 win would have put City through as group win­ner.

“I have been try­ing to find a style of play here, some of our re­sults had not been that good in the Pre­mier League and this is very good for the club.

“The first mes­sage for the squad is that they can win with­out the likes of Kom­pany, Aguero and Ne­gredo.

“I told the play­ers this was their chance to prove to me what they can do — that was the most im­por­tant thing for me.”

It started omi­nously for City as Bay­ern raced to a 2-0 lead af­ter 11 min­utes.

Goals by Thomas Mueller and Mario Goetze left Bay­ern cruis­ing be­fore Silva pulled one back for City as it cut the lead to 2-1 at the break.

Stand-in cap­tain Alek­san­dar Ko­larov then con­verted a penalty to pull even at 59 min­utes be­fore Mil­ner gave City a de­served lead three min­utes later with a su­perb curl­ing shot to com­plete the mirac­u­lous re­cov­ery.

De­spite his first ma­jor de­feat — not in­clud­ing July’s pre­sea­son Ger­man Su­per Cup de­feat at Borus­sia Dort­mund — Guardi­ola was in a philo­soph­i­cal mood.

“Per­haps we needed a de­feat to re­mind us of a few things,” said the Spa­niard.

“We have made a good start in the league, in the cup, in the Cham­pi­ons League, win­ning in Manch­ester, per­haps we thought things were too easy.

“Con­grat­u­la­tions to City. I also con­grat­u­lated my play­ers in the dress­ing room for fin­ish­ing at the top of their group.

“The most im­por­tant thing now is that we learn the lessons from this de­feat.

“It’s not a bad thing for us to lose; I read all the time how ‘ Bay­ern will win their next game’ or ‘Bay­ern has it easy’.

“No, no, no, that’s not foot­ball.”

This was only the sec­ond time Bay­ern has thrown away a two-goal lead in the Cham­pi­ons League, hav­ing gone down 3-2 to AS Roma in 2010.

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