Saturday 25 November 2017

Milner insists City can mix it with best in knockout stage

Manchester City's James Milner, second left, lifts a thumb after the Champions League group D soccer match between FC Bayern Munich and Manchester City, in Munich, southern Germany, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. Manchester defeated Munich by 3-2. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)
Manchester City's James Milner, second left, lifts a thumb after the Champions League group D soccer match between FC Bayern Munich and Manchester City, in Munich, southern Germany, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. Manchester defeated Munich by 3-2. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)

Chris Bascombe

James Milner has shrugged off the goal difference miscalculation that ensures Manchester City face formidable opposition in the Champions League knockout stage, insisting that his club fear no one after their 3-2 victory over Bayern Munich.

City could have left themselves an easier route to the quarter-finals by increasing their margin of victory to 4-2 on Tuesday night.

A magnificent evening for Manuel Pellegrini's side was somewhat blemished by the mathematical oversight as he made changes to protect rather than extend the lead -- one more unanswered goal would have won the group -- but the confidence within his squad has soared thanks to defeating the European champions.

City's players left the Allianz Arena knowing they had humbled the best team in Europe, so regardless of what the draw has in store it promises to be equally bad news for their opponents as it will be for them.

"We'll take anyone in the next round," Milner said. "It's going to be a tough team, but after this result, we'll take confidence and know we can progress. Whatever the draw is, it couldn't be tougher than Bayern Munich.

"They are the reigning champions and have been in three finals in the last four years.

"They're obviously one of the top teams and have been for the last few years, so to be able to come here and win is pleasing and hopefully shows the quality we have. It gives us a big confidence boost going forward.

"I think teams won't want to face us. It was important for us to be able to go to Munich, win and score three goals because we've now shown we can score goals in the knockout stages.

"I'd have thought it has to be up there with the club's best European moments-- to beat the reigning champions in the manner we did and the way the game went with us being 2-0 down.

"After starting pretty poorly we showed character to turn that around. It was pleasing to be part of that." City were further encouraged by the performance of Joe Hart, who was blameless for the opening two goals and made several excellent saves.

There are signs that Hart is ready to resume his No 1 duties in the Premier League, with Milner believing he will return a better 'keeper.

"It's not a surprise he did so well. He's a top 'keeper and when he's called upon, he's going to do the business.

"Everybody has ups and downs in their careers. Nobody's career goes in one nice straight line, you have peaks and troughs. It's not nice for anyone when it happens, but it makes you stronger.

"When I was younger I got relegated with Leeds and changed manager about five or six times by the time I was 20. You learn from these things and anything that your career then throws at you going forward, you can deal with it." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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