City Take Commanding Champions League Lead in Kiev

City defeat Dynamo Kiev in Champs League

The Champions League was back in action on Wednesday with the final set of first leg fixtures from the round of 16. This time, PSV Eindhoven was taking on Atlético Madrid, and Manchester City was travelling to face Dynamo Kyiv. Manuel Pellegrini’s squad was demolished 5-1 in the FA Cup over the weekend, and some criticized the manager’s decision to field a heavily weakened side for the contest. The Chilean manager only kept one player from that starting lineup in his squad for Wednesday’s matchup as the superstars returned to the field. With their English counterparts struggling in their fixtures, could City find an advantage in Ukraine?

An early mistake from Joe Hart nearly put the Cityzens behind within the first four minutes of the match. Andriy Yarmolenko’s tight-angle cross stung the hands of the English keeper, and a miscalculated parry saw the ball bounce off the top of the crossbar before drifting out of play. Would this be a sign of things to come from the Premier League side?

Luckily for the Sky Blues, they managed to overcome this early hiccup to take the lead in the 15th minute. After Yaya Toure knocked down David Silva’s corner kick, Sergio Agüero thrashed home the loose ball to put his side ahead. Agüero’s second goal of the tournament was apparently all City needed to spark their attack as they started to dominate the match.

The Argentine striker came within inches of doubling the lead in the 23rd minute, but his shot snuck just wide of the far post. Yaya Toure’s powerful effort in the closing stages of the half forced Oleksandr Skovkovskiy into a diving save, and the keeper had to know it was only a matter of time before one of these shots found the back of the net. That shot finally came in the 40th minute courtesy of David Silva.

Good interplay between Agüero and Raheem Sterling on the right wing saw the latter play a slicing cross into a wide-open Silva. The Spaniard made no mistake and hit his close-range shot into the roof of the net to double the visitor’s lead. Even with another half left to play, City had to have felt confident of already securing their spot in the quarterfinals after a decisive second goal.

Just like in the first half, Dynamo came out guns blazing for the second 45 minutes. Yarmalenko’s curled effort from outside the box went just wide of the far post minutes after the restart. This attacking style of play paid off for the hosts in the 58th minute as they a goal back. A headed clearance from Nicolás Otamendi failed to get the ball out of the danger area, and Vitaliy Buyalsky capitalized with a low deflected drive past Joe Hart. The hosts were now back within touching distance.

Unfortunately for the home fans, that was the only goal their side would be able to find. City managed to regain control of the match for closing 30+ minutes, and a blocked clearance by Fernandinho was unlucky not to find the back of the net in the 75th minute. Buyalsky almost played the hero in the 79th minute, only for Joe Hart to get an outstretched hand to deny the late equalizer.

The man in the spotlight for the final ten minutes of the match had to be Yaya Toure. The Ivorian had a glorious chance to seal the match in the 82nd minute, but somehow missed a wide-open header from five yards out. He did manage to atone for this egregious miss in the 90th minute with a casually brilliant curled effort from outside the box to put the match to bed.

The 3-1 result clearly makes City the heavy favorites to advance from this tie, and it would take nothing short of a disaster for them to crash out. Their ability to take care of business at the Etihad on March 15th could prove to be vital for English teams as a whole if no other Premier League club manages to escape the round of 16. Due to the Premier League’s recent poor form on the continental level, if no team from the league manages to reach the quarterfinals this year, the BPL will lose a Champions League spot. This would mean that only the top three finishers would secure a spot in the tournament with fourth place relegated the Europa League.

 

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About the author: Collin Carpio

 

I am currently a senior at the University of Missouri in the Journalism School. I have been an avid follower of Manchester United since 2006 and of course I support the Stars and Stripes. Due to my St. Louis high school allegiances, I am a big supporter of Brad Davis and Sporting KC in MLS.

 

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