Manchester City came back from behind twice to beat Monaco in a stunning 5-3 victory. Monaco, who had looked dangerous all game crumbled in the second half as Sergio Aguero led City to victory.
Anis looks back on a magical night at the Etihad.
The freakiest of freaky games
Up until Sergio Aguero’s penalty appeal (which I think was an absolute stone-waller, by the way), Manchester City were well in the game. Monaco had less chances and City looked dangerous every time they were around their box. Sterling broke the deadlock before Monaco exchanged blows with a classic back-post Falcao header.
But when Aguero’s appeal was turned down, City’s heads dropped and they threatened to crumble. Some horrible defending from Otamendi allowed 18-year old wonder kid Kylian Mbappé to ghost through and double their lead. And when Falcao was felled by Otamendi and the tie looked out of our grasp, a hero stood up. Willy Caballero has come up with some sensational penalty saves during his time at City but this one wasn’t anywhere near as good as the others. However, it will be remembered just as fondly. Falcao’s tame hit was easily stopped by Willy and City started to believe. Subasic spilled Aguero’s shot and City were level (I should probably start giving you score updates, 2-2). But only minutes later Falcao switched on his Atletico Madrid form, pounced on a long ball, shifted Stones aside and dinked the sweetest chip you’ll see this season (3-2).
It was a familiar narrative and I doubt many thought City could get anything from the rest of the game. But again, a bastion of light – aka Sergio Aguero – shone brightest and buried a strange – but amazing – goal from an impeding corner (3-3). From then on, it was a rout. City blitzed Monaco and scored two goals in 10 minutes. It was chaotic, delirious and downright silly to watch at the times. Leroy Sané, Raheem Sterling and even John Stone Stones took turns to shoot as the Monaco side completely imploded. Behind them, Silva, De Bruyne and Yaya kept the supply line running and the goals just flowe–crashed through like a waterfall. Jardim’s side were superb at times but they just couldn’t cope with the tenacity and relentlessness of Manchester City.
A star is reborn
Last week, Sergio Aguero came in for a lot of flak for his game against Huddersfield. I defended him and complimented an all-round game that was much improved from his previous outing.
Today was Aguero at his brilliant, menacing best. Sure, he might have ruined a few counter-attacks with a poor pass but overall his game was out-standing. He was a threat throughout the game, harrying and pressing, tracking back – sometimes deep into his own half – and winning the ball. Going forward he terrorised Monaco and their defence simply couldn’t stand up to his supreme technical ability.
And when City looked down and out, he rallied his peers and scored two unbelievably clutch goals to keep the tie alive. He has been severely unlucky this season, but everything fell in place tonight for another Sergio Aguero masterclass. Monaco were sensational at times, bullying our players and threatening a break-out but the grit and determination of City’s talisman made sure that they were put firmly to the sword.
Tonight I saw an Aguero willing to lay down everything for his team. He was ‘a fighter’, as Pep Guardiola likes to say often. So if Pep really wants to replace him this summer then he’ll have to think about it long and hard. Because I don’t think he’ll find another forward who could do what Sergio Aguero did tonight.
A shout out to Monaco and Jardim
Monaco will feel hard done by tonight. They were so impressive in the first 50 minutes and they lived up to all the hype and billing pre-match. Perhaps their inexperience at this level came to haunt them or maybe their players ran out of steam after running hard all game. Either way, they were potent opponents and this tie is far from over.
Falcao looks like the same player he was four years ago while Kylian Mbappé was electric through-out. Bernardo Silva may stolen my heart but it was their aggressive and direct football that impressed be the most. They played with no fear and their full-backs were industrious and buccaneering. Get the chequebook out, Txiki.
If City can avoid defeat by two goals in Monaco then it will be some feat from Guardiola and his boys in blue.