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City hoping prolific form can solve Euro puzzle

With each Premier League demolition job that passes, Manchester City's desperate Champions League predicament becomes more perplexing.

To move beyond the group stages in Europe, Roberto Mancini's team must beat Bayern Munich at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday and hope that Villarreal, who have failed to pick up a point in five matches, can get at least a draw against Napoli at El Madrigal.

There is still a chance, but it is a slim one and the powerlessness of their situation contrasts sharply with the certainty that has marked their explosive domestic start.

"Last year we did not have the characteristics of the players that we do now," said coach David Platt.

"What Roberto has done this year is he has gone on and added to it with Aguero and (Samir) Nasri. We have got players on the field that mean we can't actually play defensively."

That can also be said for their position in the Champions League, which is baffling. Perhaps Mancini has been too positive and he remains frustrated that five goals have been conceded in the three games against Bayern and Napoli.

Bayern thumped Werder Bremen 4-1 at the weekend, having lost their two previous Bundesliga matches, but Platt is still hopeful that something miraculous can happen on Wednesday.

"We're confident," said Platt. "We believe that Villarreal have got the team that can get a result. Although we feel we've got the quality to progress, it is another learning curve," he added.

They had to bide their time against Norwich before Aguero scored with a wonderful turn and shot after Paul Lambert's side had defended doggedly for half an hour. The second arrived with some fortune when Nasri floated over a free kick which goalkeeper John Ruddy allowed in at the far post, before Yaya Toure curled in City's third.

Norwich replied through Steve Morison but Mario Balotelli claimed a fourth with his shoulder and Adam Johnson completed the scoring. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent