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22nd February 2019

Comeback Kings: City secure dramatic Schalke win

Late goals from Leroy Sané and Raheem Sterling rescued the Citizens from a potentially embarrassing result
Comeback Kings: City secure dramatic Schalke win
Photo: Football.au @ Wikimedia Commons

Manchester City hit two late goals to come from behind and beat Schalke, in an action-packed first leg of the two sides’ Champions League round-of-16 tie.

Pep Guardiola’s side went into the game as firm favourites, with Schalke having finished runners-up in Group D, widely seen as the easiest group in this year’s competition.

City had been in rampant form ahead of the clash, having dispatched Newport in the FA Cup fifth round, after scoring a total of 11 goals in three Premier League matches against Arsenal, Everton, and Chelsea.

Continuing the trend, the visitors took full advantage of an early defensive error to take the lead, with Salif Sané’s mistake giving Sergio Aguerö a chance to easily slot home.

The game seemed to be turning into a routine victory for City, but quickly swung in the favour of the hosts, with newly-introduced VAR inevitably playing a part.

After a second review, Nicolás Otamendi was penalised for handball after blocking a shot, and ex-Tottenham man Nabil Bentelab stepped up to convert.

The Germans were then awarded a second spot-kick, when Salif Sané turned from villain to hero, winning a penalty after he was fouled by Fernandinho.

Referee Carlos del Cerro Grande consulted VAR to confirm his decision, before Bentelab once again beat Ederson from the spot to put his side in control seven minutes before the break.

As Schalke looked to hold on to their lead in the second half, they were boosted by city’s loss of Otamendi, who was dismissed for a second yellow after fouling Guido Burgstaller, and will now miss the second leg.

City will also be without Fernandinho for the second leg, who has incurred a ban after picking up three yellow cards.

With just five minutes left on the clock Schalke were looking likely to secure an improbable first leg victory, but it was ex-Schalke man and super-sub Leroy Sané that saved his side with a pinpoint free-kick from 30 yards.

Raheem Sterling then beat the Schalke backline to fire home from a tight angle in the last minute, rescuing victory from the jaws of defeat for an incredibly-relieved travelling contingent.

The remarkable late turnaround was a sign of the formidable, determined and somewhat unbeatable attitude that has swept through the City camp over the last few weeks, since a shock defeat to Newcastle at the end of January.

This side now looks as convinced of its ability as ever, and even when they were a man down and trailing with just minutes on the clock, they dug deep to secure a result, and further score two more important away goals.

It is this sort of mentality that will fuel the team’s assault on the premier league title, with the sky blues now appearing to have the momentum over Liverpool.

As for continental competition, Pep Guardiola was keen to stress that despite the comeback, the team needed to develop further if they were to think seriously about winning the competition: “We are still not ready to fight for the latter stages, that is reality, but the result is good.

“We played with incredible personality. We gave two goals when they did absolutely nothing. It is not over, this competition is completely different.”

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