KOLO SENDS A FINAL DE­MAND Toure calls for in­spi­ra­tional ef­fort to save City’s sea­son

MAN CITY (0) v SPORT­ING (1) Thurs­day, 8.05pm – Live on ESPN BEST MANN FOR HIT JOB

Midweek Sport - - THURSDAY MARCH 15 - By FRANK MCCAULEY

KOLO TOURE has told his Manch­ester City team-mates to treat Thurs­day night’s Europa League last-16 de­cider like a cup final.

Roberto Mancini’s troops are fight­ing to save their sea­son af­ter back-to-back de­feats.

Hav­ing been re­placed by Manch­ester United at the Premier League sum­mit af­ter los­ing to Swansea on Sun­day, City are scram­bling to stay in Europe.

They must score twice against Sport­ing Lisbon to make sure of their place in the last eight af­ter los­ing 1-0 in Por­tu­gal last week.

Toure in­sists City have the qual­ity to over­turn the first leg deficit – and has laughed off sug­ges­tions of a cri­sis at the Eti­had.

Tough

But he ad­mits fans could be in for a nail-bit­ing night against qual­ity op­po­nents.

Toure said: “We just need to play the sec­ond game as if it’s a final and try to win it.

“It will be a tough game, def­i­nitely.

“But ev­ery time we play at home, we know we can score a lot of goals – but we’ll have to work hard.

“Sport­ing de­fend very well – they showed that in the first leg – and they’re re­ally good on the counter-at­tack.

“In the first game they had a free-kick and did well with it and we con­ceded the goal.

“It was a re­ally dif­fi­cult game for us, but we have the sec­ond leg and we’ll give it our all when at home.

“We didn’t un­der­es­ti­mate them at all.

“We went to Por­tu­gal want­ing to win, but there are two legs and the most im­por­tant thing is that we only con­ceded one goal.”

Mid­fielder Nigel de Jong claimed win­ning the Europa League is as im­por­tant to City as win­ning the Premier League.

The Dutch hard-man said: “We’re dis­ap­pointed with how it went in the first leg.

“It was an un­nec­es­sary loss, but we’re con­fi­dent we’ll seal the deal at home.

“I think the tempo was too slow for us to re­ally prise them apart. Luck­ily, we still have a game to go.

“We have to be 100 per cent com­mit­ted to our games with the play­ers we’ve got.

“For us, the Europa League is as im­por­tant as the Premier League, so we have two goals to go for this sea­son.” SPORT­ING CHANCE: Toure wants City to give their all to wipe out the one-goal deficit given to the Por­tuguese

side by Xan­dao AS­TON VILLA’S new kid on the block An­dreas Weimann has been backed to fill in­jured Dar­ren Bent’s boots af­ter a ca­reer-chang­ing week­end win­ner.

The Aus­trian ace’s 93rd-minute strike earned Villa a dra­matic 1-0 win over Ful­ham.

And mid­fielder Chris Herd reck­ons the rookie hit­man (above) is the man to fill the void left by Bent af­ter net­ting his first se­nior goal.

Herd said: “An­dreas is a great player, he’s got a lot to bring – goals, linkup play. He’s only young as well, so he can only get bet­ter.

“Ob­vi­ously, Bent is a mas­sive miss for us. But we all be­lieve in An­dreas’ abil­ity, so hope­fully he can step up and fill the gap.

“I think a goal like the one he scored can change your ca­reer.

“Hope­fully he can kick on, get a few more goals and who knows where he can go from there.

“He’s a hard worker and he never gives up. I think all great fin­ish­ers are like that.”

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