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Manchester City held by hardworking AS Roma

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Manchester City will need to produce some drastically improved performances to progress from the group stage of the Champions League after they laboured to a 1-1 draw with Roma.

The reigning Premier League champions were expected to be desperate to impress after their last-minute heartbreak in Munich, but they delivered a somewhat subdued performance.

With Jesus Navas and David Silva starting on the wings and Edin Dzeko partnering Serigo Aguero up to you'd have forgiven City fans for thinking they could be in for a feast of attacking football from their team.

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Instead the most penetrative football came from the opposition, with Gervinho's pace causing havoc and Francesco Totti rolling back the years.

Perfect start

The Etihad crowd were treated to a dream start when ex-City man Maicon pulled down Aguero in the box and the striker made it 1-0 with less than five minutes on the clock, but City failed to kick on.

Within minutes Maicon had almost redeemed himself, but his thunder-bolt cannoned off the bar after he'd latched on to a Totti chipped pass. It wouldn't be the first time Totti would use that technique to cause trouble.

Having produced a perfect first five minutes, City were now on the back foot and Roma's persistence paid off.

Eternal class

He may have lost a yard of pace, but 38-year-old Totti showed his class remains permanent with a brilliant equaliser.

Having cleverly worked space behind Vincent Kompany he raced onto a Radja Nainggolan through ball and delivered a delicate chip over the onrushing Joe Hart and into the far corner.

The goal made him the oldest ever scorer in Champions League history and sent the large Roma following berserk.

City were now on the back foot and struggling to deal with the pace of Gervinho and Nainggolan's endless energy and were probably relived to hear the half-time whistle.

Urgency

The start of the second half saw the introduction of James Milner in place of Jesus Navas and finally the City attack had some kind of urgency to go with David Silva's creativity.

However, the pair couldn't carry a whole team and it was Roma who had the best chance of the second half when Miralem Pjanic found himself in space in the box only to shoot straight at Hart.

As the game wore on City eventually piled on the pressure, but Roma's stubborn defence meant the hosts were limited to a couple of long range efforts from substitute Frank Lampard.

The one time they did create space in the box, Newcastle loanee Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa came out of nowhere to stop Fernadinho after the Brazilian had linked up with Lampard and Toure.

Missing men

What makes the scoreline even more impressive from a Roma perspective is the number of key men they were without.

Morgan De Sanctis, Leandro Castan, Kevin Strootman and Daniele De Rossi are all certain starters when fit, but had all been ruled out with injury.

In their absence the likes of Kostas Manolas and Nainggolan excelled, giving Totti the perfect platform from which to perform his magic.

City had injuries of their own, but would have backed their strength in depth to cope with the loss of Samir Nasri and Fernando.

What would have disappointed Manuel Pellegrini, and the home fans, was the performance of a number of key men. Yaya Toure continued his slow start to the season and Kompany has to take some responsibility for the Roma goal.

Although City are blessed with a number of talented individuals, they simply need their star players to produce the goods in the big games if they're to fulfill their Champions League dreams.

Not enough

A point ultimately isn't a terrible result for City against an in-form Roma side, and they could still end the group-stage with a creditable 13 points.

However, that would mean winning away in Rome and overcoming Bayern Munich when they visit the Etihad.

At their best, City are capable of beating both sides, but they showed nowhere near enough ability or desire in this clash to suggest they will.

Having won the Premier League in his first season, Manuel Pellegrini is well aware he needs to at least take City to the latter stages of the competition in the near future, but at the moment his side continue to look overawed by the Champions League.

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Topics:
Sergio Aguero
Manchester City
Vincent Kompany
Gnegneri Toure Yaya
AS Roma
Football

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