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The Miracle of Munich

It was the night City almost pulled off the impossible....

Now, as Pep Guardiola returns to the Allianz Arena for the first time since leaving Bayern in the summer, we look back at a night the Blues came of age in Europe... 

Champions League, 10 December 2013

Bayern Munich 2, City 3

It was a game that seemed little more than a paper exercise with Group D seemingly already done and dusted.

Bayern Munich had won all five of their matches including a stunning 3-1 win at the Etihad while City had won four of the five group matches, scoring plenty of goals in the process.

There was a slender chance that the Blues could still pinch top spot in the group, but it meant beating Pep Guardiola’s flying German side by two clear goals and scoring a minimum of three goals in the process.

Bayern’s goal differences was vastly superior, but if City did manage to win by a couple of goals, it would be the head-to-head stats that counted rather than goal difference so Manuel Pellegrini’s men needed a 3-1 score-line or better.

There was the added issue that Bayern had won their last 10 Champions League games and were 40 games unbeaten in the Bundesliga, so this was a stern test for City.

So much so, that Pellegrini elected to rest Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany, Samir Nasri and Yaya Toure having perhaps all-but written off the fixture.

A mountain of a task became seemingly insurmountable with barely 11 minutes played as a full strength Bayern went 2-0 up through Thomas Muller and Mario Gotze with Joe Hart tipping another effort onto the post and making several fine stops.

It seemed as though the floodgates would open as a makeshift City team clung on for dear life, but after weathering the initial storm, the Blues pulled themselves back into the game just before the half-hour when David Silva tucked the ball home from close range after good work by Jesus Navas and James Milner.

 

The Blues suddenly found the belief they needed and with ship steadied, Milner won a penalty on 58 minutes and Aleksandar Kolarov converted to make it 2-2.

The 4,000 travelling City fans urged their team on as the thought of an unlikely victory became a possibility.

The Blues, torn to shreds at the Etihad were getting payback and five minutes later, Milner swept home a Navas cross to make it 3-2. It was incredible stuff and one more goal would give City the victory they needed to top the group.

On the bench, perhaps, the mathematics hadn’t been worked out as Dzeko was replaced by Jack Rodwell with Aguero unused by Pellegrini.

Alvaro Negredo had a great late chance but was denied by Manuel Neuer, but no matter – this was the night when City came back from the dead against the form team of Europe in what is still perhaps the best Champions League performance to date.

Now, watch the game...

Key moments

5 – Thomas Muller controls a pass by Dante before slotting the ball past Hart.

11 – Mario Gotze doubles Bayern’s lead

16 – Micah Richards injured – replaced by Pablo Zabaleta

28 – David Silva prods home to half the deficit

58 – Milner felled by Neuer in the box – Kolarov scores from the penalty spot

63 – Milner turns home Navas’ cross to put City ahead

78 – Negredo denied by Neuer ensuring the margin of defeat remains at one for the Germans

 

Man of the match: James Milner

A constant thorn in Bayern’s side, the City midfielder had one of his best games for the Blues and had a big hand in all three goals. The England star showed what he was capable of given a freer role and he rewarded the manager’s faith with a match-winning display.

 

 

Starting XIs

Bayern Munich (4-1-4-1): Neuer; Lahm, Dante, Boateng, Alaba; Thiago; Ribery, Götze (Martinez 55), Müller, Kroos; Mandzukic (Shaqiri 68).

Subs: Starke (g), Van Buyten, Rafinha, Pizarro, Contento

Booked: Dante.

 

Manchester City (4-4-1-1): Hart ; Richards (Zabaleta 16), Demichelis, Lescott, Kolarov; Navas, Garcia, Fernandinho, Milner; Silva (Negredo 73); Dzeko (Rodwell 88).

Subs: Pantilimon, Kompany, Negredo, Agüero, Boyata.

Booked Zabaleta, Fernandinho, Dzeko, Milner.

Referee: D Borbalan (Spain).

 

Media reaction

“It was so close to earning the title ‘The Miracle of Munich’. Two goals down to the European champions within 11 minutes, Manchester City turned embarrassment into euphoria with a stirring comeback in the Allianz Arena.”

Chris Bascambe, Telegraph

“It was an amazing turnaround from Manuel Pellegrini's side, who almost earned the 4-2 victory they needed to go through as group winners as Alvaro Negredo had a late effort saved by Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.”

Alastair Magowan, BBC Sport

“James Milner made two and scored one in the home of the European champions in a final hour that saw a weakened City team come from 2-0 down to win deservedly 3-2. It is a result and a performance that will give Manuel Pellegrini great confidence for the knockout stages.”

Barney Ronay, The Guardian

“Manchester City produced one of the great Champions league comebacks to stun the European champions into disbelieving silence.

“An under-strength Blues team came up with a jaw-dropping display of character after going two goals down inside 12 minutes to win with goals from David Silva, an Aleks Kolarov penalty and James Milner.

“Not only did that condemn Bayern – who played their strongest available team - to their first home defeat since Arsenal turned them over in March, but it sent out a message to the rest of Europe.”

Stuart Brennan, M.E.N

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