Manchester City beat Roma to secure group qualification

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They say Rome wasn't built in a day, but on Wednesday night Manchester City put six weeks hard work in to one 90 minute performance to secure their path into the Champions League round of 16.

After four games City sat bottom of the group with just two points from a possible 12, the watching world looked on wondering how the Premier League champions could be so inadequate in European competition.

But on Wednesday night, Samir Nasri inspired a City performance that made everyone sit up and take note of a team that finally showed the necessary desire and quality to progress to the knock-out stage of Europe's premier club competition.

When Nasri shocked the Stadio Olimpico with his opening goal you could have been forgiven for forgetting the fact the fact City only took two points from their opening four games of the competition.

When Pablo Zabaleta put City two up you probably forgot the fact a score drawn would have been enough for Pellegrini's team.

Italian Job

Getting a result in Rome was never going to be easy for a team missing Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero, but City remained hopeful.

The opening exchanges suggested Roma would win this fixture with ease, Gervinho had the beating of Eliaquim Mangla and Edin Dzeko looked isolated up top on his own.

City needed to score to qualify and their top goalscorer, Aguero, was nursing an injury. How could they possibly pull this off?

Step forward Mr Nasri. The former Arsenal man has constantly played second fiddle to David Silva but on Wednesday night he took the part of star man in front of a city used to seeing gladiatorial performances.


As the game reached the hour mark Nasri found himself on the ball around the edge of the box. So often we've seen the Frenchman look for a killer ball, but something inside him told him to shoot.

And shoot he did. A thunderbolt beat Morgan De Sanctis and crashed in off the post. City were ahead and on their way to the knock-out stages.

Play it safe and defend the lead was the message from every watching fan, but that's not the City way.

As the clock ticked down Nasri picked up the ball in the Roma box. On first glance he was alone, no defender had tracked him, no teammate wanted to support him.

But one man thought differently. Having sat patiently at right-back while City soaked up pressure Pablo Zabaleta finally had a chance to attack, and when he burst in to the box to meet Nasri's pass City were through.

The Argentine isn't a goal machine, but he scores important goals.


When City beat QPR on the final day of the 2011/2012 season to claim their first Premier League title, it was Zabaleta who scored the opener.

And on Wednesday night he turned up at just the right time to ensure City made it through a difficult group.

Two points from four games became eight points from six games, but nobody in light blue stopped to think numbers.

For the second season in a row, City were in the knock-out stages of the Champions League. While they may be eliminated at the next stage, there's not a football fan in the country who can deny the fact they deserve that place among the last 16.

City won't suddenly be favourites to lift the Champions League trophy, but in the week they unveiled the world's most impressive training facility, they suggested they plan to have a major say in the future of European football this year, and for years to come.

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UEFA Champions League
Manchester City
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