Monday 18 December 2017

Poznan pile woe on Mancini as City slump to third loss in a row

Lech Poznan 3
Man City 1

Manicini: Under pressure. Photo: Getty Images
Manicini: Under pressure. Photo: Getty Images

Sandy Macaskill

It never rains but it pours. It may have only been a light November drizzle which drifted down on the Polish city of Poznan last night, but as Manchester City suffered their third consecutive loss one could not help but think that a storm cloud is gathering over Roberto Mancini. "At the moment everything is against us," he said.

In truth, there was really nothing he could say. The manner of City's defeat was that unfortunate. His side had demonstrated admirable fight in recovering from a goal down in a hostile environment, Emmanuel Adebayor scoring his club's 100th goal in Europe, but City were always vulnerable because of a failure to take their chances. David Silva should have scored twice from close range.

Even so, when Dedryck Boyata's headed clearance deflected off Manuel Arboleda and past Shay Given four minutes from time, you could feel only compassion for Mancini. Mateusz Mozdzen's wonderful strike from outside the area one minute into stoppage time twisted the knife, but by then City had left themselves open as they spent the final minutes in a desperate attempt to equalise.

Judging by his defensive substitution of Vincent Kompany for James Milner with more than 10 minutes remaining, Mancini would have been happy with a draw. However, as Arboleda's header spun past Given, one Poznan spectator next to the technical area held out his hand in a taunting gesture, which Mancini smacked away in frustration.

It was understandable. That City enjoyed more opportunity to score than their opponents was of little consolation, for it reinforces the view that City are adrift without Carlos Tevez. Fortunately for them, the Argentine arrived back in Manchester yesterday and is expected to be fit to face West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.

With recent losses to Arsenal and Wolverhampton Wanderers in mind, it was crucial to send out the right signals after a week City would rather forget. During it there have been suggestions of a loss of confidence in Mancini and spats between players. There was no in-fighting last night -- not on the pitch, at any rate -- and plenty of effort on this occasion, but too little to show for it.

When Milner had a chance in the area in the fourth minute, Poznan had the quick reactions of goalkeeper Jasmin Buric to thank for surviving unscathed, but City should have come away with a goal in the 18th minute when Adebayor saw his header stopped on the line by Marcin Kikut, before Boyata headed Adam Johnson's cross straight at the keeper. Such waste tends to get punished.

The early chances had gone City's way, but there were still warning signs from Poznan, specifically a 23rd-minute free-kick which Slawomir Peszko ripped just wide. On the half hour Patrick Vieira lost possession in the middle of the pitch with men committed forward (not for the last time either), and Poznan seized the opportunity.

Krivets received the ball on the left and swung in a cross. Joleon Lescott's headed clearance was not good, but Vieira and Pablo Zabaleta seemed to have cleared the danger until the ball dropped outside the area for Dimitrije Injac, who audaciously struck the ball into the bottom left-hand corner.

Mancini made a positive change, sending Silva on for Shaun Wright-Phillips at the break, and six minutes later his side were back in the game.

Milner's corner from the right was on the money for Adebayor, who headed at Buric, the goalkeeper only able to palm it straight back, allowing the striker to drill the ball into the net from point-blank range.

City were fortunate that Wayne Bridge did not concede a penalty when the defender clipped the heels of Peszko, but that was the extent of their luck. It was regrettable that Silva struck Adebayor's cross into the ground and then onto the bar, but City could not believe their ill-fortune when Boyata tried to head clear in the 86th minute, the ball ending up in his own goal after deflecting off Arboleda and sneaking past Given at the far post.

Again, Silva missed an excellent opportunity to rescue the situation, chipping Johnson's cross over the bar from a couple of yards out, but then Mozdzen struck from outside the area, sending Mancini heading for the tunnel with a stony face. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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