ONLY JOY OF SIX WILL DO FOR DZEKO

AJAX v MANCH­ESTER CITY Tonight, 7.45pm – Sky Sports 2

Midweek Sport - - ON THE NOSE - By GRA­HAM CHASE

EDIN DZEKO ad­mits Man City have to nab six points against Ajax to stand a chance of pro­gress­ing in the Cham­pi­ons League.

Roberto Mancini’s men are play­ing catch-up once again af­ter col­lect­ing just one point from their open­ing two group games.

They led twice at Real Madrid, only to suf­fer heart­break by con­ced­ing two late goals in a 3-2 de­feat in the Bern­abeu.

Bat­tered

And the Premier League cham­pi­ons also needed a last-gasp penalty from Mario Balotelli to res­cue a 1-1 draw against Borus­sia Dort­mund af­ter be­ing bat­tered by the Ger­mans.

Now City head to Am­s­ter­dam to face a team that has lost both group matches, know­ing they have to win to keep their hopes of reach­ing the knock­out phase alive.

Mancini ad­mits his side needs at least NINE more points to stand a chance of get­ting out of the group.

That means de­feat­ing Real Madrid at the Eti­had or snatch­ing three points from their trip to Dort­mund in the fi­nal game.

Bos­nian star Dzeko, 26, who bagged two late goals to earn a 2-1 win at West Brom at the week­end, in­sists max­i­mum points against Ajax is a must.

“It is dif­fi­cult, I think we didn’t start very well again this year as we only have one point and I think this game will be cru­cial,” said Dzeko.

“If we win, then we play against them again at home and maybe if we get six points it will be much bet­ter for us.

“I think it’s an im­por­tant game. We have to win if we still want to be in the Cham­pi­ons League.”

Mancini has re­vealed he fears a re­peat of last sea­son’s ag­o­nis­ing exit at the group stage.

City man­aged to col­lect 10 points against Bay­ern Mu­nich, Napoli and Vil­lar­real – but it was still not enough.

Mancini thinks this sea­son’s draw is EVEN harder than last term as City need to keep reach­ing the Cham­pi­ons League to boost their seed­ing.

But even though Ajax have lost their two games, Mancini in­sists Frank de Boer’s men will not be a soft touch.

Strong

He said: “Like when we started this group, it is im­por­tant to win the next game.

“I don’t think it will be easy be­cause Dort­mund only beat Ajax in the last two min­utes and af­ter 80 min­utes Real Madrid were only 2-1 up and then they scored two late goals.

“The same sit­u­a­tion as last year could hap­pen and it de­pends how our next game against Ajax goes.

“I think that we played against two strong teams, Real Madrid and Borus­sia Dort­mund.

“But we can’t think it will be easy against Ajax be­cause Ajax play in the Cham­pi­ons League ev­ery year and for us it’s the sec­ond year.

“Also we have play­ers of ex­pe­ri­ence, but to win in Am­s­ter­dam isn’t easy.”

EDIN FOR A DOU­BLE: Dzeko wants back-to­back wins against Ajax

FEEL­ING

THE STRAIN: Mancini

fears an­other early exit

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