Aguero to the rescue as City leave it late to earn a lifeline

MANCHESTER CITY (2) vs VILLARREAL (1)

MANCHESTER CITY manager Roberto Mancini believes his side have finally announced themselves on Europe’s grandest stage after Sergio Aguero’s injury-time strike secured a maiden Champions League victory.

Having taken just one point from their opening two matches in the competition Mancini declared victory essential prior to kick-off, but Ruben Cani’s fourth minute strike ensured any hope the Italian had of a comfortable evening ahead of Sunday’s Manchester derby were dashed.

Carlos Marchena’s own goal two minutes before the interval changed the mood inside Etihad Stadium, and although City had to wait until the 93rd minute for substitute Aguero to make his match-winning contribution, Mancini believes City can now target hauling in Group A pacesetters Bayern Munich.

“I hope this goal will be very important – it was very important to win the first game in the Champions League. I think everything can happen in this group, for first place,” he said. “We know we go to Villarreal in 15 days, it will be a very important game for us.”

City’s last outing in Europe ended in controversy when Carlos Tevez appeared to refuse to come on as a second half substitute against Bayern.

Mancini was reluctant to discuss the outcome of today’s investigation into the episode which saw the Argentine exiled for two weeks.

However, he intriguingly added: “I’m soft because I’m a good man and I can’t understand everything but I would prefer not to speak about this situation.”

City could themselves have been accused of being soft in the build up to Cani’s early goal with David Silva guilty of giving the ball away and Nigel de Jong weak in the tackle.

Joe Hart will also have been disappointed at the way he could only shovel Giuseppe Rossi’s shot into the path of Cani, but parity was restored just before the break when Marchena just beat Edin Dzeko to Aleksandar Kolarov’s low cross.

Dzeko spurned City’s best opportunities after the break but his blushes were spared by Aguero, who stole in at the far post to convert a cross from his compatriot Pablo Zabaleta, just as it appeared Villarreal would survive and cling on for a point.