Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling scored two invaluable late goals to hand Manchester City a 3-2 comeback win at Schalke in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday night.
Against the Bundesliga strugglers, Manchester City were meant to have a comfortable night. But what panned out under the floodlights in Germany, most certainly, was far from pleasant for the visitors.
City, as expected, started the game on the front foot, showcasing their unmatched quality. Schalke didn’t fall back despite the onslaught and chose to stick to their lofty rivals. Despite the German outfit’s best attempts, Manchester City found themselves ahead only minutes past the opening quarter. City’s veteran midfielder, David Silva, capitalized on Schalke’s indecisiveness on the edge of his box and fed the ball to Sergio Aguero, who didn’t make any mistakes tapping the ball in from close range.
"The result is incredible, three goals away, but we gave away the goals and the red card."
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) February 21, 2019
The opening goal made Manchester City confident, urging them to push for more. However, two VAR-induced penalties in the first half turned the game on its head. Nabil Bentaleb stepped up to the plate and slotted both of them convincingly past City stopper, Ederson.
The match went from bad to worse for the defending Premier League champions, in the second half, when defender Nicolas Otamendi got marching orders with just over 20 minutes left to play. Then came Manchester City’s moment of inspiration in the form of Leroy Sane’s impeccable free-kick, with the former Schalke player curling his effort from distance to restore parity for the Sky Blues.
— Football Digest (@FutballDigest) February 21, 2019
Finally, Raheem Sterling rose up to the occasion and exploited Schalke’s indecisiveness to seal the win for Manchester City in the 90th minute.
Here are three major talking points from Wednesday’s encounter:
A Controversial First Half
The match between these two explosive teams was always meant to churn up some controversial calls, but not many expected VAR to be the focal point. The hosts were brave in their approach and were ultimately rewarded by the Video Assistant Referee in the final minutes of the first half.
Both penalties, in theory, were rightly rewarded, but the time VAR took, to make the decisions, was certainly unsavory.
Manchester City Show their Class
On paper, Manchester City are one of the strongest teams in Europe, and last night, they once again proved there is more to them than meets the eye.
The defending Premier League champions aren’t only about fantastic passes, and clever movement, they are also more than capable of digging deep when necessary. In the second half, after Otamendi’s dismissal, the comeback seemed like an improbable task. But City’s relentless prevailed, and they deservedly walked away with three crucial away goals.
Sane Comes Back to Haunt
Playing against his former club, Leroy Sane was brought in to make the difference for Manchester City in the dying moments of the match. In the end, he did, scoring an unstoppable free-kick from a fair way out.
Sane still has a ton of respect for his former club 💪 pic.twitter.com/CeQBnWnMId
— Goal (@goal) February 21, 2019
The accuracy, curl he generated, and speed everything was right up to the mark, making the set-piece one of the best we have seen all season. Out of respect, Sane didn’t celebrate against his former club, calling it a weird moment, after the match.
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