PHLEGMATIC Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini chose to focus on the final matchday conundrum despite seeing his side revive their flagging Champions League hopes courtesy of a Sergio Aguero-inspired victory over 10-man Bayern Munich at the Etihad Stadium last night.
A clinical Aguero completed his hat-trick with two late goals, cancelling out strikes from Xabi Alonso and Robert Lewandowski after Bayern played 70 minutes a man light following the dismissal of Mehdi Benati, who fouled the Argentina striker for his successfully converted first-half spot-kick.
Pellegrini’s side will now qualify for the knockout phase by beating Roma in the Eternal City next month, providing CSKA Moscow fail to beat Bayern in Germany. A score draw could also suffice as long as group winners Bayern do City a favour and beat CSKA.
“We must try and have our chance until the end and the best way to have that chance is to beat Roma,” said Pellegrini. “But there are a lot of different options as it depends on what CSKA do against Bayern Munich. We are always feeling positive but it doesn’t just depend on what we can do. If CSKA win in Germany they will qualify but we never give up hope.”
City drew first blood when Aguero was felled in the box in the 21st minute by last man Benatia after surging onto Frank Lampard’s forward ball, with the Moroccan dismissed and Aguero dispatching the penalty beyond Manuel Neuer.
The German Champions turned the tide before the break, former Liverpool playmaker Alonso’s free-kick bypassing the defensive wall and a static Joe Hart before a Lewandowski header looped over the City stopper.
With their Champions League aspirations looking bleak, City drew level with five minutes remaining when Aguero sprinted clear of the Bayern backline to fire past Neuer after Alonso’s crossfield ball was intercepted by substitute Stevan Jovetic. Aguero completed his treble and an imperious City comeback in injury-time after Jerome Boateng made a hash of Jovetic’s deft flick, with the 26-year-old beating Neuer to notch his 17th goal this term.