Joshua Wilson-Esbrand’s deflected effort in the 78th minute rescued a draw for Brian Barry-Murphy’s youngsters against the stubborn hosts, who took the lead on the stroke of half-time when Kyriani Sabbe rifled a 20-yard drive past Mikki Van Sas.
Having dug in with nine men to claim a point against Paris Saint-Germain in our previous game in the competition, City again showed character to fight back against the Belgians, who were backed by a vociferous home crowd.
Brugge hit their stride quickly and Sabbe’s unstoppable strike after City missed two opportunities to clear a left-wing cross was just reward for their first half dominance.
Van Sas was called into action on numerous occasions as the impressive trio of Romeo Vermant, Antonio Nusa and Cisse Sandra created a host of opportunities.
Vermant was denied three times by Van Sas, who was at full stretch to claw away the striker’s curling effort as he capitalised on Rico Lewis’ misplaced pass, whilst Luke Mbete was also indebted to the goalkeeper, who saved well from Nusa after the centre-back conceded possession inside his own half.
At the other end, City struggled to create with our usual fluency, but still spurned two golden opportunities.
Luca Barrington sent a six-yard effort straight at Jelle Van Neck in the Brugge goal after being caught unaware by Sabbe’s failure to clear Sam Edozie’s low cross, whilst the goalkeeper also made a smart stop to deny Oscar Bobb from close range after neat build-up play between the striker and Edozie.
City were much improved after the break, controlling possession and restricting the opposition’s attacking threat.
Vermant was still a danger, though he fired straight at Van Sas from inside the area and drilled into the side netting after racing clear of the chasing defenders on one direct counter-attack.
But, just as Van Sas had rescued his team-mates in the first half, so too did Van Neck in the second.
The goalkeeper spared the blushes of Ibe Hautekiet when he got back in the nick of time to clear off the line following the defender’s misplaced back pass and was at full stretch to keep out Kwaku Oduroh’s angled 20-yard drive.
In a physical encounter there was a sense City’s frustrations were beginning to mount as the well-drilled hosts made life difficult for us in attack, but our patience was rewarded as we upped the ante in the final 15 minutes.
A dancing run from Edozie saw the winger beat three defenders before Van Neck came out to block the resulting shot, but there was nothing the ‘keeper could do about the winner.
Wilson-Esbrand, who became increasingly influential as the game progressed, weaved across the penalty area before checking inside to release a powerful effort off his left foot, which cannoned off a defender to leave Van Neck wrong footed as it crossed the line.
What it means
City and Brugge remain tied on five points at the top of Group A, with one win and two draws from the opening three games.
Paris Saint-Germain could join us on the same number of points, should they beat RB Leipzig on Matchday Three.
The EDS are back in Premier League 2 action on Saturday 23 October, when Tottenham Hotspur Under-23s visit the Academy Stadium.
How we lined up
In a change from our usual 4-3-3, City switched to a fluid 3-4-3 formation as Barry-Murphy made five changes to the side that thrashed Leicester City on Saturday.
Van Sas retained his place in goal and was shielded by Jadel Katono, Mbete and Wilson-Esbrand in the three-man defence.
Romeo Lavia anchored midfield alongside Lewis, who moved between that role and right-back, when City were out of possession.
Oduroh and captain James McAtee were in the advanced midfield positions behind, behind Barrington, Edozie and Bobb, who led the line up front.
CITY: Van Sas, Lewis, Katongo, Mbete, Wilson-Esbrand, Lavia, Oduroh, McAtee (C) (Ndala 70'), Barrington (Mebude 55'), Edozie (Ogwuru 70'), Bobb.
SUBS: Murray-Jones, Tarensi, Whittingham, Adam.
BRUGGE: Van Neck, De Roeve, Hautekiet, Modele, Sabbe, Biomme (C), Engels, Sandra, Nusa, Audoor, Vermant.
SUBS: Vroman, Ochieng, Servais, Spileers, Talibi, Vanrafelghem, Audoor.
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