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Having been replaced by Manchester United at the Premier League summit after losing to Swansea on Sunday, City are scrambling to stay in Europe.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