clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

3 things we learned from Manchester City's 2-1 capitulation against CSKA Moscow

Manchester City's Champions League campaign went from bad to worse as they had two men sent off and slipped to a defeat at home to CSKA Moscow on Wednesday.

Alex Livesey

Manchester City's hopes of qualifying for the Champions League's knockout stages took a hit on Wednesday, after they suffered a stunning 2-1 defeat at home to CSKA Moscow. City managed to cancel out their Russian visitors' early opener, though failed to muster a response after conceding again later in the first half and having two players sent off in the second.

It took just two minutes for CSKA to take the lead at the start of the match, with Seydou Doumbia heading a Bibras Natkho corner home in just the second minute of action. However, City's response was immediate, with the hosts storming forward and creating a couple of half-chances before finally pulling level through a brilliant Yaya Touré free-kick.

After restoring parity, City would have probably been expecting to seize control of the game and really start to put their visitors under pressure. However, a string of sloppy passing and poor positional play ensured the Russian side stayed a danger on the counter-attack, and Doumbia should've put them back ahead in the 19th minute, though he fired wide after slipping in behind Martín Demichelis.

However, he made amends for his miss with just over 10 minutes of the half remaining, when Bibras Natkho played another excellent cutting pass through the City defence. This time, Doumbia made no mistake when face-to-face with Joe Hart, calmly slotting home to restore CSKA's advantage.

City looked a little more lively after the game resumed in the second half, and went close to pulling level for the second time just short of the hour. James Milner fizzed a dangerous cross in from the left, though an outstretched Sergio Agüero narrowly failed to make contact with the ball from point-blank range. A few minutes later, Milner let fly from inside the area, only to be denied by Igor Akinfeev's outstretched leg. City were banging on the door, but it wasn't breaking down.

Things went from bad to worse for the hosts with just over 20 minutes left, when halftime substitute Fernandinho was sent off for a second bookable offence. From then, CSKA looked much more comfortable in possession, patiently working the ball around the midfield in a bid to tire their hosts. Save for a momentary scare when Akinfeev was called into action to deny Edin Džeko, CSKA were comfortable.

Their task was made even easier by a second City red card inside the final 10 minutes, when Touré earned himself an early bath for inexplicably shoving his opponent to the ground. Neither he, nor City could have any complaints, and CSKA held on for a big victory.

Manchester City: Hart; Clichy, Demichelis, Kompany, Zabaleta; Milner, Touré, Fernando (Džeko 65'), Jesús Navas (Nasri 46'); Jovetić (Fernandinho 46'), Agüero.

Goals: Touré (8').

Red cards: Fernandinho (70'), Touré (81').

CSKA Moscow: Akinfeev; Schennikov, Ignashevich, Berezutski, Fernandes; Natkho, Wernbloom; Dzagoev (Efremov 86'), Eremenko, Musa; Doumbia (Milanov 67').

Goals: Doumbia (2', 34').

3 Things

1. City's defence isn't good enough

It wasn't long ago that Vincent Kompany looked like one of the best defenders on the planet, and he won the Premier League's Player of the Season award back only two years ago. However, he's now a key culprit in a defence that looks far too shaky to win either the Premier League or the Champions League this season. Sure, playing alongside Gaël Clichy and Martín Demichelis doesn't help, but Kompany's decline has embodied City's defensive struggles ever since Manuel Pellegrini took over from Roberto Mancini.

2. ... but it was with the ball that City lost this match

CSKA certainly aren't a bad side, and their threat on the counter-attack meant that sitting deep and looking to strike them on the break would be a safer strategy when facing them than pressing high without the ball. Sure enough, in this match City didn't really look to dominate possession, and sought to move the ball forward quickly when they won it back. But the problem was neither the personnel, nor their shape was right for such a strategy. With Stevan Jovetić and Sergio Agüero often pulling wide onto the flanks, and the four midfielders dropping deep without the ball, City were outnumbered by the CSKA defence and midfield, and often resorted to aimless hoofs upfield -- one of which led directly to CSKA's second goal. It was an alarmingly poor display in possession from the Citizens.

3. Seydou Doumbia is impressing on the biggest stage

Ivorian striker Seydou Doumbia has long been linked with a move from CSKA to a bigger European club, but he's seemingly never managed to do quite enough to seal a switch. However, this match will certainly have done him no harm. He matched strength, aerial prowess and clinical finishing with mobility across the pitch, and was vital in linking his side's swift counter-attacks. On this showing, he wouldn't be a bad pickup for a bigger team at all.