HESTER CITY (1) vs NAPOLI (1)
MANCHESTER CITY manager Roberto Mancini accused his players of putting personal glory before the team after Napoli held the Premier League pace-setters to a draw on their Champions League debut.
City needed a free-kick from Aleksandar Kolarov to rescue a point from their first match against Europe’s elite for 43 years, after Edinson Cavani had put the Italians ahead midway through the second half.
A compelling, open game might have yielded more goals – City hit the bar twice and Napoli once – and an otherwise content Mancini admitted to frustration at his team’s failure to make more of their possession.
“Maybe some players wanted to win the game on their own because we played one touch too many in the first half. When we had the chance, one touch more,” he said.
“Apart from that I enjoyed the game. First half we played very well, but second half maybe we were too long, because every player wants to score a goal and we left a lot of space.”
Mancini’s men came into their first game in a hugely competitive Group A in free-scoring, all-conquering form after a blistering start to the season.
And they looked set to continue in that vein, when Samir Nasri fizzed a snapshot inches wide and the recalled Edin Dzeko forced Morgan de Sanctis to make a fingertip save within the first 15 minutes.
But it was Napoli, whose attacking trio of Marek Hamsik, Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi is widely coveted, who almost took a shock lead when the latter turned City skipper Vincent Kompany and guided a shot towards the top-right corner, only to hit the crossbar.
Back down the other end, a Yaya Toure effort went the same way before half-time, but the Italians bared their teeth again straight after the break when Hamsik’s volley from an acute angle beat Joe Hart but was cleared off the line by Kompany.
And Napoli made the breakthrough on 69 minutes when City lost possession, Christian Maggio charged 40 yards and fed Cavani, who drilled a low finish under Hart.
Aguero was inches away from levelling moments later, when he touched Nasri’s cross onto the bar, but Kolarov succeeded where he failed 15 minutes from time with a dipping free-kick.
Dzeko might even have won it but spun and shot wide and Mancini threw on last season’s top scorer, Carlos Tevez, in a bid for all three points, but in vain.
KEY MOMENTS | ITALIAN JOB
49 mins: Both sides strike the woodwork in a pulsating first-half, but Napoli come closer still four minutes after the break when Vincent Kompany clears Marek Hamsik’s volley off his own goal line.
69 mins. Napoli’s threat on the break earns them the lead. City lose possession, Maggio drives forward and feeds Cavani, who ruthlessly finishes to put the other Champions League debutants in front.
75 mins. Just seconds after Aguero had come within a crossbar’s width of equalising, Kolarov steps up to a free-kick on the right flank and expertly curls it over the wall and inside the near post.