Manchester City were absolutely cruising in the first half of their latest Champions League group fixture against CSKA Moscow on Tuesday afternoon.
Without playing that well they showed the killer instinct in the first half, capitalising on some defensive mix ups, to go 2-0 ahead. The game looked dead and buried at half time.
And it wasn’t for a lack of talent that Manchester City failed to finish CSKA off in the second half – the Russians were technically capable but City were far superior in most departments.
What actually happened is that Manchester City lost their way. As has been the way of things in Europe for them over the last few years, they just didn’t seem to have the experience to close the game out.
Instead they went into their collective shell and let CSKA find their rhythm. A bolder approach would surely have seen Manchester City increase their lead. But they tried to play a game of containment and it failed, with CSKA scoring just after the hour and then on 85 minutes to make it 2-2.
The draw sees Manchester City languishing in third place on two points with Roma (4 points) and Bayern (6) meeting later.
Some blame has to find its way to City coach Manuel Pellegrini. There’s nothing wrong with trying to consolidate a lead when you’re away from home in Europe. But you have to stay on the front foot – get forward periodically and remind the opposition of how dangerous you can be on the counter. Peg them back. City didn’t do this and they are once more left to lick their wounds as a consequence.
They can still qualify for the knockout stages. But they surely now need to beat Roma on their own patch and Bayern at home to progress.
Manchester City fans – do you still believe you can progress in The Champions League this season?