City pulled off the seemingly impossible tonight, ending the nine month home unbeaten run of European champions Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena.
When the lineups were announced, we all feared the worst. City were understrength despite the return of Silva, while Bayern had a fearsome looking starting 11.
And then the horror show began. City’s defenders looked completely out of their depth as Bayern Munich cut them open with ridiculous ease, scoring two goals in the first 12 minutes through Muller and Gotze.
It looked grim for City and when Micah’s hamstring went for the umpteenth time in his career, things just got worse. That will mean he is out for another spell and City will be without a second choice right-back for Zaba.
But things suddenly changed and the introduction of Zabaleta, who had Ballon d’Or nominee Ribery in his back pocket for most of the game, helped shore up the defence.
City regained their composure and started moving the ball around better. A good spell of possession (our best in the two games against Bayern up to that point) led to Silva, excellent on his return, slotting home after a smart header across goal from Milner.
This might have provoked Bayern into taking control of the game again, but except for brief spells, it didn’t happen. City were even better in the second half, with Zabaleta, Silva, Fernandinho, Milner and Dzeko all having outstanding games.
When Dante brought down Milner in the 59th minute, City were given a penalty, two years after they were denied a couple of stonewall penalties in the same stadium.
With no Aguero or Yaya on the pitch, it was left to Kolarov who sent Neuer the wrong way! Incredible! City were about to take a point from the Allianz with an understrength team!
Nah. We are Manchester City, a special club where anything can happen – for better or for worse. After former City man Jerome Boateng slipped and failed to clear a cross, man of the match Milner beat Neuer with a perfectly placed shot to put City 2-3 up!
City could have had a fourth and the Group D top spot when substitute Negredo stole the ball off Dante, only for Neuer to make a terrific save with his trailing leg.
City did threaten to score a fourth, but didn’t seem to go the extra mile. Perhaps the lads were tiring, but Pellegrini’s post-match interview on Sky suggested he didn’t realise City only needed one more.
Most of us thought City needed to win by 3 goals, but apparently a higher scoring equivalent of Bayern’s 1-3 win in the first game would have been enough (so 2-4 would have done it). It’s also possible Pellegrini was just misunderstood as his English isn’t perfect.
Nevermind. This was a show of guts and bravery from City, who sent a message to Europe that they can be a force, if they believe in themselves and work hard. This was a City team without Kompany, Nastasic, Yaya, Nasri, Aguero and others, but they came away with a hard fought win, ending an epic unbeaten streak at the Allianz.
Superbia in Proelio is our club motto – Pride in Battle. There have been accusations at times of City not giving enough in certain games, but they lived by that motto tonight and pulled off a memorable result.
City fell short of miraculously winning the group and face a brutal last 16 fixture next year, but perhaps the psychological effect of tonight’s win will be the most important thing in the long run. We beat the best team in Europe!
Bayern Munich: Neuer, Lahm, Boateng, Dante, Alaba, Thiago, Müller, Gotze (Martinez 55), Kroos, Ribery, Mandzukic (Shaqiri 69)
Subs not used: Starke, Van Buyten, Rafinha, Pizarro, Contento
Goals: Muller 5, Gotze 12
Manchester City: Hart, Richards (Zabaleta 16), Demichelis, Lescott, Kolarov, Garcia, Fernandinho, Navas, Silva (Negredo 73), Milner, Dzeko (Rodwell 88).
Subs not used: Pantilimon, Kompany, Aguero, Boyata
Goals: Silva 28, Kolarov pen 58, Milner 62
Attendance: 68,000 (sold out)
TKA Man of the Match: James Milner
Stats courtesy of WhoScored: