City 1 Napoli 1
Sept 14th 2011 44,026

UEFA Champions League Group A

A slightly disappointing evening as City failed to win their first important European tie for 43 years. The last time City played in the European Cup was on September 18th 1968 . I watched a goalless draw against Fenerbahce of Turkey. The team that day was Mulhearn, Connor, Pardoe, Doyle, Heslop, Oakes, Lee, Bell, Summerbee, Owen, Young and the crowd at Maine Road was about 39,000. We lost the return in Turkey 2-1 so it was an early exit.
There were lessons to be learnt from this intriguing tie against an Italian team that often had nine or ten men behind the ball. One of the problems was that the City tempo rarely rose to their premiership level. Though City hit the bar on two occasions our visitors too had a couple of unlucky moments. I think the defence is really missing De Jong in front of the back four. A bad error by Barry in midfield let the Italians in for a quick break and opening goal. Although City had most of the possession Napoli were quick and dangerous on the break and only a goal line clearance by Kompany saved City on an earlier occasion.
Fortunately a great free kick from Kolarov saved the day for City. He had earlier broken his nose and he was immediately subbed by Clichy. Nasri and Silva tried hard but just failed to make those clear cut chances we have been used too. Its a tough group but I hope lessons will be learnt and there is better to come

Dzeko returned to lead the line with Tevez and Johnson on the bench.
Napoli had brought a good number of very noisy supporters
In the centre is Roberto Mancini's 75 year old father Aldo watching his son for the first time in Manchester
Everyone was looking forward to a great night of European football
An early shot by Nasri goes just wide
City found it difficult to break through the packed Napoli defence
A dangerous corner by Nasri is cleared by Napoli
A corner by Nasri is headed on by Dzeko and the Napoli keeper De Sanctis manages to save from Aguero at the near post
After 13 minutes a shot by Dzeko just goes wide of the post
A minute later Silva on a good run is brought down by Maggio who is booked
City had a narrow escape when a quick counter attack ended with a Lavezzi shot beating Hart and hitting the bar
Note the number of Napoli players behind the ball
A good run by Aguero set up Yaya Toure........
.....and Toure's effort hit the bar and came down safely for Napoli. A good chance lost!
Shame as Toure had made a good run from midfield
Kolarov gets treatment for his nose. The stretcher bearers have a bit of exercise
A free kick for a foul on Zabaleta is taken by Kolarov and is well saved by the keeper
Lescott clashing with the keeper at a corner
Something we never saw last season - three City players left up field at an opponents corner!
Another yellow card -this time for Aronica for a foul on Aguero just before half time
Four minutes into the second half City had an escape when a cross by Zuniga was met by Hamsik but Kompany saved on the line as Hart was beaten
A Lescott header from a corner goes well over the bar
Kompany heads clear
Zabaleta makes a great last ditch block to stop this Napoli effort
However after 68 minutes disaster struck. Barry tried a crafty pass in midfield but lost the ball.
In a flash Napoli were on a break.......
The City defence was caught napping and Cavani hit the ball under Hart to give the visitors a shock lead
The Napoli supporters went berserk and the stewards and police had their hands full to contain the enthusiasm
After 73 minutes Zabaleta is brought down by Inlar
Hart 6.5: Zabaleta 7, Kompany 6.5, Lescott 6.5 Kolarov 7.5 ( Clichy 7) : Yaya Toure 7.5, Barry 7, Nasri 6 ( Johnson 6) Silva 7.5, Aguero 7, Dzeko 7 ( Tevez)
A shot by Aguero goes just over
Despite some protests by the Napoli players Kolarov takes the free kick.........
.... and the ball flies over the wall.........
.....and past an unmoving De Sanctis to give City their equalizer .........
...... and first Champions League goal . What a moment. The stadium erupted!
Despite his broken nose Kolarov had done the business and his colleagues were more than pleased
A poor back pass by Kompany gave Napoli a chance ut Hart came running out to foil Pandev
Silva had a good penalty shout turned down and City piled on late pressure but the game ended 1-1
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