Rome falls to ‘one-man’ City – AS Roma 0 Man City 2

Manchester City were nigh on spineless as kick off loomed at the Stadio Olimpico in the Eternal City. Even worse, they would be virtually invisible, as they took on the might of Rome for a place in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Labelled as a ‘one man team’ due to the sensational goal scoring exploits of Sergio Aguero, it was as if the rest of City’s playing staff didn’t even exist in the jaundiced eyes of the English sports media and a posse of putrid pundits.

Gladiators one & all - City line-up as the 'Invisible Men' in Rome. Courtesy@MCFC

Gladiators one & all – City line-up as the ‘Invisible Men’ in Rome. Courtesy@MCFC

With Aguero a no-show it would surely be a case of ‘We’re not really here…’ for the rest of those who wore the sky blue shirt – cruelly slated as sub-standard bearers of the Champions of England.

Even if there was more to Manchester City than just the ‘Sergio Show’, they would be without a ‘backbone’ – Yaya Toure was suspended, Vincent Kompany ruled out with injury and a far from fully-fit David Silva consigned to the bench.

This was destined to be an orgy of Roman indulgence, a night where gladiators from a faraway land would be bloodied and smashed into submission, before the baying hordes of Rome.

Not even a walk-on part - Sergio was missing but City still produced the goods in Rome. Courtesy@MCFC

Not even a walk-on part – Sergio was missing but City still produced the goods in Rome. Courtesy@MCFC

But behold…Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears for there is a very different tale to tell…one that graphically depicts the Fall of Rome and the Rise of a Blue Moon, elevated from the shadows cast by non-believers, detractors and haters.

When asked to identify the biggest single factor in City’s finest hour in the Champions League, Manuel Pellegrini offered up a one word answer: ‘TRUST’.

It translated into the Chilean’s own self belief and the confidence among his players – players bursting with personal and collective pride that they had passed, what was arguably, City’s sternest test on foreign soil.

The whole club graduated with honours on a night where City may just have come of age at the top table of European football.

Italian chic - Pellegrini was a smart cookie as his tactics and team selection saw City through to the last 16 of the Champions League. Courtesy@MCFC

Italian chic – Pellegrini was a smart cookie as his tactics and team selection saw City through to the last 16 of the Champions League. Courtesy@MCFC

Pellegrini described City’s 1-1 draw with Roma at the end of September as City’s ‘…worst game of the whole year.’

The day after the Etihad stalemate, arrogant AS Roma Official had tweeted: ‘Thanks for the hospitality last night @mcfc. Looking forward to seeing you in Rome. You’ve never won a European game in Italy, have you?’

Well, now we all know the answer to that one…don’t we?

In contrast, this 2-0 win was the most professional and pragmatic performance in four, largely underwhelming, campaigns in City’s CL odyssey.

Pressure relief - Manuel Pellegrini was pensive after City's 1-1 home draw with Roma in September. Last night he was jubilant. Courtesy@MCFC

Pressure relief – Manuel Pellegrini was pensive after City’s 1-1 home draw with Roma in September. Last night he was jubilant. Courtesy@MCFC

Having over achieved in the CL with Villarreal and Malaga during his time in Spain, Pellegrini, once again showed his pedigree at this level.

A famous victory could be the kick-start to an era where City discard their ‘L’ plates, realise they are no longer novices and set out to fulfil their rich CL potential.

One can only imagine Msr Michel Platini and his UEFA cohorts spitting feathers, as the club they love to hate, overcame the odds. 

Zaba Daba Doo - Pablo was back to his best in Rome. Courtesy@MCFC

Zaba Daba Doo – Pablo was back to his best in Rome. Courtesy@MCFC

UEFA’s bully-boys fouled up by appointing Serbian referee Milorad Mazic to officiate because, stone the crows, he was fair and correct…apart from whistling for an innocuous alleged infringement by Dzeko, a nano-second before Navas thought he’d scored a first half opener.

Doubtless City have already been paired with holders Real Madrid in Monday’s Round of 16 draw – heaven forbid City should be given any chance of progressing to the quarter finals . Nonetheless, this was a landmark win.

Pellegrini’s tactics were spot on as City discovered a fully functioning midfield five, who worked their proverbials off for the entire 90 minutes plus.

Prolific Pablo - Zaba scored his second goal in a week and his first in the Champions League. Courtesy @MCFC

Prolific Pablo – Zaba scored his second goal in a week and his first in the Champions League. Courtesy @MCFC

No passengers, meant City showed the intensity displayed by their hosts, when they visited the Etihad and returned to Rome, believing they had the measure of the men from Manchester.

Clearly not so, as it’s Roma who have to make provision for Thursday night football in 2015 as they drop into the Europa League.

As for the reviled racist Russians of CSKA Moscow, they can leave the gates wide open at their Arena Khimki Stadium. No need to worry about playing behind closed doors…no one’s going to watch the malicious Muscovite miscreants or their thuggish followers in Europe any time soon.

Romans repelled - Joe Hart gave a super showing on the night he captained his club. Courtesy@MCFC

Romans repelled – Joe Hart gave a super showing on the night he captained his club. Courtesy@MCFC

City can now forget their early nightmares in Group E and look forward to a 50% chance of playing in a Spanish spring. If the draw is kind it’ll be Dortmund, Monaco or Porto.

The cynics who believe the CL to be rigged against City – that’ll be 95% of the club’s fans – feel it’s inevitable they’ll be drawn against Real Madrid. Failing that, either last season’s nemesis, Barcelona or the reigning La Liga champions, Atletico Madrid.

It was a first clean sheet in City’s last 13 CL games that provided the foundation for the all-important qualification to the knockout stages.

The Fall of Rome - Zaba celebrates clinching City's place in the Round of 16. Courtesy@MCFC

The Fall of Rome – Zaba celebrates clinching City’s place in the Round of 16. Courtesy@MCFC

Joe Hart, given the captain’s armband for the night, pulled off a string of brilliant saves, particularly when tipping away Gervinho’s low drive in the first half, before touching Kostas Manolas’s header onto the post, a minute or so after City had gone one up.

Initially troubled by Roma’s incisive incursions, City’s defence of Demichelis, Mangala, Clichy and Zabaleta stood firm.

Demi, cleared off the line seconds after Roma hit the post as they pushed for an equaliser, and was clearly in his element as City’s elder statesman.

Demichelis and Mangala combined well at the back. Courtesy@MCFC

Demichelis and Mangala combined well at the back. Courtesy@MCFC

Rookie Mangala is improving and, despite some people doubting his abilities, the French defender will be a fine long–term central defensive partner for Kompany.

Clichy continued his fine form of late and Zaba was typically Zaba, revelling in an environment akin to ancient times, where gladiators fought for survival and glory.

Probably the finest right back in the world, he is back to his best after his World Cup hangover, crowning his performance with City’s second goal on the night and his second in seven days – prolific Pablo!

Born of adversity, Pellegrini may well now have a blueprint for CL success, one based on a formation of 4-5-1, or a slight derivation.

Blueprint - In the week that City officially opened the City Football Academy for future prosperity, Manuel Pellegrini found a template for Champions League success. Courtesy@MCFC

Blueprint – In the week that City officially opened the City Football Academy for future prosperity, Manuel Pellegrini found a template for Champions League success. Courtesy@MCFC

The tireless efforts of Fernandinho and Fernando provided excellent cover for City’s back four, Milner was indefatigable, Navas’ trickery on the flanks was evident and Samir Nasri was, once again outstanding.

His howitzer of a shot on the hour mark, crashed against the inside of De Sanctis’ right post before nestling in the net.

This was Samir in his Arsenal pomp, the Nasri not seen at City as often as the supporters would like…it was magnifique.

City were preparing Silva when Nasri struck gold, with his 50th career goal for his past and present English employers, on the occasion of his 50th CL appearance.

He did so as City’s Silva readied himself for a return from the bench after an eight match absence.

Magnifique - Samir's sensational 20-yarder set them on the path to victory. Courtesy@MCFC

Magnifique – Samir’s sensational 20-yarder set them on the path to victory. Courtesy@MCFC

Merlin re-appeared as he replaced Navas in the 67th minute, while Jovetic came on for a still not match fit Dzeko. Kolarov returned to his old Lazio stamping ground to sample the win, as Man of The Match, Nasri, came off to a standing ovation from the 1,500 travelling supporters.

Nasri had scored a 20-yard cracker and provided the assist for Zabaleta, as he swept the ball home in the 86th minute.

High viz, with a strong vertebral column, City will be a spine-chilling prospect for whoever awaits them in the Champions League draw in Nyon on Monday morning.


City – minus talent worth £200m – came through when so many in this country and among Europe’s elite wanted them to fail. Put that negativity down to fear and jealousy.

As for the fans – those decrying Pellegrini before the six-game winning run that has seen City progress in the Champions League and slice Chelsea’s ‘unassailable’ Premier League advantage down to three points – one word…TRUST!


By David Walker



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  1. December 11, 2014  5:44 pm by Fifthcolumnblue Reply

    A simply marvellous performance from everyone in Blue last night, amazing how well we can do when given a fair crack at the whip by the officials. You can tell how much this meant to all of the players last night by their reactions to both of the goals and at the final whistle, and this can only put us into a positive frame of mind for the upcoming Christmas fixtures - judging by Jose Mourinho's comments almost immediately after the game, it has also given Chelsea something to think about as we chase down their slender 3 point lead.

    Makes a refreshing change to look at the sports pages and hear nothing but praise for a City performance, although I note with distaste that arch-rag Jamie Jackson of the Grauniad was chewing on sour grapes as he maligned our performance and suggested we were lucky!

    Hopefully this win will stick in his and other critics long after the trite cliches about being a "one man team" have been consigned to the dustbin.

    Now for a kindly draw, as I feel if we can make the quarter finals we can go all the way no matter who is out injured!

    • December 11, 2014  8:42 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks No 5 for your measured comments - as per usual. Actions speak louder than the bile spewed out by certain sections of the media who can't let go of their prejudices, for whatever reason. Life's too short for negativity, so let's focus on the positives and the joys of being associated in whatever form with our beloved Manchester City.

      Roll on Monday and fingers on the buzzer to book those flights. I recall us all getting giddy at Villa Park when we won 2-1 & SWP scored an amazing goal in front of the Holte End. We sang relentlessly and it went something like this 'We're all going on a European tour, a European tour...' repeat 700 times & fade...

  2. December 11, 2014  5:54 pm by carole Reply

    Think it might be your best yet!!

  3. December 11, 2014  6:06 pm by Phil Taylor Reply

    excellent piece Dave, and an excellent performance by City. And as for Samir, Vive la France !

    • December 11, 2014  8:21 pm by David Walker Reply

      Merci Msr Taylor. Maybe all over to yours for PSG in the QF? See what the draw throws up - fancy another UCL MCFC rendezvouz?

  4. December 11, 2014  6:08 pm by Gary Derbyshire Reply

    Another outstanding team performance and much needed. Everybody did their job to a man and after a 15-20 minute expected blitz from the Romans our brave boys in blue grew into the game. Joe Hart was big and strong and gave a captains performance. Demichelis never put a foot wrong and the 2 Fernys in midfield broke up attack after attack. Everybody else earned their corn, and then some. 2 wonderful goals on what turned out to be a wonderful and memorable night in our history. My hair was physically growing until we scored but by the time zabs slotted the 2nd home I was convinced that not even the city of old wouldn't cock this up!! No doubt the eufa mafia will be ball tampering enduring we're drawn with Madrid, but it feels good to be in the bag having been written off by all and sundry. #AlwaysTrustOurMP

    • December 11, 2014  8:22 pm by David Walker Reply

      Couldn't agree more. Cheers Gary.

  5. December 11, 2014  7:19 pm by Doug Sharp Reply

    Obviously you enjoyed writing this as much as I did reading it! As far as the draw goes, it doesn't matter which Spanish team we meet as we are afterall the Champions of England.

    • December 11, 2014  8:24 pm by David Walker Reply

      Just a bit ;-)

      True, if we're going to be the best we have to beat the best and who's to say one of the perceived 'lesser' teams might not come strong? It's great to still be in it - I think it means a helluva lot to the players.

  6. December 11, 2014  8:08 pm by Eileen Fullen Reply

    Brilliant performance by all felt really proud last night and special mention to our travelling supporters - A great read once again you never fail to deliver.

    • December 11, 2014  8:24 pm by David Walker Reply

      That's very generous of you Eileen - thankyou.

  7. December 11, 2014  8:08 pm by Mark Turner Reply

    Thanks David. A briliant prosaic report on a wonderful night of football. This win must have been as disappointing for the vast array of haters as it was thrilling for City fans. Everyone in a City shirt put in such tremendous shifts last night. A truly great team effort. Love the fact that our MP used the word Trust in his interview.....your influence is growing Mr Walker :)

    • December 11, 2014  8:28 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks MT - pleasing feedback but as for MP being under my influence...I have as much influence as an extraordinarily weak shandy (half - not a pint) has on the standard issue breathalyzer - sweet nothing! The whoole City fanbase is buoyed by that result and performance. Now let's continue gobbling up the Premier League wins and run Chelsea to ground.

  8. December 11, 2014  8:34 pm by Doug Henshaw Reply

    Before the Game against Bayern I wrote on here the result didn't matter it was to little to late. Boy was i wrong with a capital W & im so pleased to be able to say that. Loved your blog Dave it have visions of Joe Same Zab & the rest striding in to the arena in full gladiator mode. It was a great win & well deserved & musthe of upset the media who will of been scrambling around rewriting there headlines. Napoleon Practitioners must of been beside himself & surley is trying to find some rule we have broke how sick must he be. Pat on the back Dave for you never once did you waver from TrustOurMP. How right you were so it's definitely #TrustOurMP

    • December 11, 2014  8:35 pm by David Walker Reply

      Bless you mate - sometimes it's great being wrong isn't it? CTWD ;-)

  9. December 11, 2014  8:37 pm by Doug Henshaw Reply

    That should of said Napoleon Prattine & Sami sorry Dave.

    • December 11, 2014  8:46 pm by David Walker Reply

      Apology accepted...oh sod it, you can be milk monitor after all.

  10. December 11, 2014  8:41 pm by Philip Entwistle Reply

    After that initial 10-15 minutes we settled down and played like a TEAM, defensively sound, probing down either flank and pushing the Romans well and truly onto the back foot.
    It appeared to me that the penny has finally dropped with our players and the way our MP sent them out, control the ball and you control the game. From back to front they were simply magnificent (sorry, unfit Edin apart), several journeymen players according to the Red top rags, rose up and were counted, not as a one man team but as one TEAM.
    Special mention to those fans who travelled to the game, they sounded great all night as they really enjoyed the occasion.
    Keep the Faith

    • December 11, 2014  8:43 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Phil - Faith has never left the room...apart from bathroom breaks!

  11. December 11, 2014  10:01 pm by Joe Reply

    Excellent thanks. the biggest single factor in cska Champions League campaign, I offer up a one word answer: KARMA.

    • December 11, 2014  10:09 pm by David Walker Reply

      Is he the CSKA left winger? ;-)

      Mind you, in days of old, all of CSKA were left wing. Thanks Joe.

  12. December 11, 2014  10:49 pm by Glenn Kavanagh Reply

    Hats off to the boss & the boys super, I was one who said "no chance" for city before the Munich game - manager getting sacked etc etc... I'm trilled to bits about how we played last night, what a brilliant team display - I'm delighted to have being proven wrong. The team were great from back to front. Maybe g Neville has a point about the 42 being dropped for certain games. Fernandhino was magnificent, the best result in Europe by a long way for this city team, crazy stuff - on aside note having read most of the papers over the past 24 hrs its interesting how dzeko/navas split opinions, ratings ranging from 5 6 7 8 etc, anyway I'm over that moon again. I enjoyed your piece as usual. Thanks, g. P.s best answer ever from Manuel after the game......... Trust - how cool was that !!!!! Priceless.

    • December 12, 2014  1:00 am by David Walker Reply

      Thankyou GK - it was nice to write about our team in such a fashion after City rammed all the jibes & the criticism right up the fundament of the haters. Always value & appreciate your feedback.

  13. December 12, 2014  5:20 am by Ekemtime Reply

    Nice read dave.. Of all articles, this one looks so touching..
    As a nigerian,, before the bayern game, people had written us off but by the end i was shouting aguerrrooo all the way home...
    Still before the fall of rome, chelshit fans were betting their lives on city to crash out and we beat the odds...
    We fight to the end,, it doesnt matter which team we face in next round but we fight to the end.. Am sure we will make it to the semi-finals, correct me if am wrong.. TrustourMP...CTWD!!!..

    • December 12, 2014  9:34 am by David Walker Reply

      Thanks for your feedback and at this stage of the competition I have no desire to correct your assertion that we will make it through to the semi-finals...dare we even dream of more? A wonderful night in Rome - one to cherish - but there are some pretty big obstacles to be overcome before we can realistically anticipate being Champions League winners. I'm sure it will happen in the next 2 or 3 years, obviously we'd love it to be in Berlin in 2015, but that's asking a helluva lot.

  14. December 12, 2014  8:42 am by James HouseOlogy Reply

    Fantastic stuff David, just like our performance.... Showed true grit... City are back!!!

    • December 12, 2014  9:26 am by David Walker Reply

      It was a pleasure to you can imagine. Thanks JHO.

  15. December 12, 2014  10:49 am by Toby Teasdale Reply

    A team is born.

    Hart was brilliant, Nasri loved the responsibility; Di Michelis and the Mangler had Francesco Totti (he never got a sniff) in their pockets. However as my pet Roman 'Marcus Aurelius said ‘The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious’. For me it was the non-obvious 'Nando Brothers' who ran the game. They were so good Generalissimo Rudi Garcia had to keep the glum faced Rossi sitting on the bench.

    Qualifying for the last 16 will provide City’s management the incentive to get busy in the January sales. Fingers crossed, landing Wilfried Bony (if his wage demands are not too cosmic).

    On Monday however they try to stitch us up, there's nobody we need be frightened of drawing ; .


    • December 12, 2014  11:36 am by David Walker Reply

      Love the snippets from history in your feedback. Do you hire the same person who makes Joey Barton sound like a modern day philosopher on his Twitter account? ;-)

      It was a real 'team'effort - no passengers (albeit Dzeko was obviously not fully match fit), no players loping back from forward positions when City required men behind the ball, no individuals behaving like prima donas and not subscribing to the team ethic of work, work, work and then work some more.

      I'd be staggered if we don't draw one of the Spanish teams but, as you say, a fully fit and focused City will not be an opponent Real, Atletico or Barca will relish playing. Remember against Barca last season, Sergio played 45 mins of the 180 and was not right after injury. 4-1 flattered Messi & Co and, as I recall we had a Turnip from Sweden as referee at the Etihad and a very annoying French official, called Lannoy at the Nou Camp. Can we request the Serbian ref from the Stadio Olimpico, he was the best CL official we have come across in four seasons?

      Cheers TT.

      • December 12, 2014  12:08 pm by Toby Teasdale Reply

        'Do you hire the same person who makes Joey Barton sound like a modern day philosopher on his Twitter account? '

        Yes, he hires me!

  16. December 12, 2014  2:42 pm by Richard Cooper Reply

    Lovely city, walked miles, had more than one or two red wines and have found out the real reason that the Roman Empire fell - All the Legionaires we saw around Palatine were puffing fags and using mobile phones - What sort of work ethic is that !
    Haven't seen any written or spoken punditry, but I did quickly scan the MEN player ratings. This player should have done that, that player should have done this, etc etc blah blah blah. It was a super team effort with the emphasis on the word "team" and that goes for all including the subs.
    You are correct to commend the referee - the best we have seen in the Chumps League.
    Until Monday let's enjoy the victory on the night we regained European credibility. As for the draw. To win it you have to play Real or Barcelona sometime but Porto would be good whereas I believe Monaco only have a small ground so tickets may be few ?
    Please City - No European hangover tomorrow !

    • December 12, 2014  3:23 pm by David Walker Reply

      Can't dispute a single word RC. Rome is a beautiful city, one that I have always enjoyed both as a tourist and on numerous business trips, but the ultimate occasion must be the gathering of three precious points and seeing City win at the Stadio Olimpico. Grazie.

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