Manchester City Vs. Sporting Lisbon, 2012 Europa League: City Win 3-2 But Are Knocked Out On Away Goals

Manchester City's dismal week continued with a remarkable home match against Sporting Lisbon that sees the Premier League's second-place team dumped out of the Europa League. Although City had lost 1-0 in Portugal in the the first leg, they'd generated plenty of chances at the Estadio Jose Alvalade and looked as though they had every chance of overturning the deficit at the Etihad Stadium.

Wrong! Instead of rolling over like so many Premier League sides have done for Roberto Mancini's men, Sporting took the game to their expensively-built opponents, playing some excellent transition football while denying City much in the way of looks at Rui Patricio's goal. They weren't just sitting on their first-leg lead, either - Joe Hart's net was threatened several times in the early stages and was finally breached by Mathias Fernandez with a stunning free kick just after the half-hour mark.

Ricky van Wolfswinkel made it 2-0 Sporting six minutes later when he took advantage of Micah Richard's failure to track his run and Stefan Savic's failure to be someone who wasn't Stefan Savic, smashing home Mazat Izmailov's low cross from close range. The two away goals, combined with the first leg advantage, meant that City needed four goals to advance, and they'd looked like getting... well, none in the first half.

Sergio Aguero rectified that problem fifteen minutes into the second, picking the ball up in the penalty area before firing sweetly into Rui Patricio's top corner, but time was working against the English side and there was no way they could score fast enough to make it to the quarterfinals. City got their second thanks to a rather astonishing dive from Aguero, who 'won' a penalty after launching himself into the air in the general vicinity of Renato Neto, with Mario Balotelli only too happy to convert the ill-gotten spot kick.

Things got a little bit frisky after that. Nigel de Jong managed to spark a minor melee after trying to pick up the injured Bruno Pereirinha, and with the visitors attempting to waste as much time as humanly possible City were feeling rightly irked. With 15 minutes to go and the home side needing two goals to advance, things didn't look too promising, but Aguero notched another after a free kick bounced loose to the Argentine and then the match got very interesting indeed.

City, by this point, had realised that they were in with a shout of making it to the next round and were by now laying siege to Rui Patricio's goal. Cross after cross was flung into the box, with Sporting defending for their lives. Balotelli managed to pick up a booking for getting angry at Xandao for being kicked in the head. Five minutes of injury time later, goalkeeper Joe Hart came within a foot of winning the thing for City after being thrown forward, with his header flashing just wide of the post. But that chance was the last action of the match - despite the 3-2 win, City are out of the Europa League on away goals.

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