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How City's staying power is proving priceless

UP FOR THE CUP:  Bernardo embraces Sergio after his winning goal

UP FOR THE CUP: Bernardo embraces Sergio after his winning goal

There have been many touchstones behind City’s superb run through 2019 so far but, arguably, one of the key drivers behind the Blues' quest for success on four fronts has been our ability to master the game of patience.

Few would deny City’s all-round quality and artistic flair which, over the past two seasons, has seen the Blues paint the most vibrant of footballing colours, earning Pep Guardiola’s side numerous accolades along the way.

But, with the Club still very much in contention for silverware on three fronts and with the Carabao Cup already in the bag, another formidable facet to City’s play has emerged over the past couple of months.

That is the team’s steely core of resilience and staying power which has helped the Blues to find a way to prevail late on in matches - no matter what the circumstances.

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With many opposition teams increasingly opting to mass bodies behind the ball and seek to restrict time and space for the Blues, City have had to bide our time and play a waiting game.

Statistics reveal that 10 out of the Blues’ last 14 goals have arrived in the second half and that knack of successful time management has increasingly served us well since the turn of the year.

City’s game of patience was never better demonstrated than in last Saturday’s remarkable 3-2 FA Cup quarter-final win away at Swansea.

Finding ourselves 2-0 down with just over 20 minutes left at the Liberty Stadium amidst driving rain and buffeting gales and with Swans keeper Kristoffer Nordvelt in inspired form, many sides could well have crumbled.

SPOT ON: Sergio levels it with his penalty as the Blues step up our second half comeback

Highlights

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Swansea v City: Extended highlights

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Not City.

Instead, the Blues merely redoubled their collective efforts and, inspired by Bernardo Silva’s superb 69th minute strike, then drew level through substitute Sergio Aguero’s 78th minute deflected penalty before Kun - as so often – provided the final word, his deft 88th minute header sealing a thrilling fightback and earn a semi-final ticket. 

That late, late goal rush mirrored City’s amazing comeback win in our Champions League last 16, first leg assignment away at Schalke last month.

Trailing 2-1 to the Bundesliga side and down to 10 men after the dismissal of Nicolas Otamendi with five minutes left, the portents looked ominous.

However, City dig deep into our collective reserves and mounted a remarkable recovery sparked by Leroy Sane’s wonderful 85th minute fee-kick before being capped with Raheem Sterling’s 88th minute winner.

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It’s a quality that has seen Guardiola’s side overcome almost every challenge so far in 2019 - save  solitary setback away at Newcastle in late January.

Aside from that Swansea comeback, a glance at City’s recent run of results perfectly illustrates our capacity to bide our time and retain the side’s collective focus.

In our last Premier League clash at home to Watford, the Blues were blunted by a solid wall of green for 45 frustrating minutes.

Rather than allow ourselves to be deflected by frustration however, City simply stepped up the intensity and were rewarded with a 13-minute Sterling hat-trick straight after the break.

In a similar vein, the league trip to Bournemouth at the start of March saw City dominate possession and territory with Eddie Howe opting to position massed ranks of Cherries behind the ball in a defensive deployment.

City team-mates congratulate Sterling on incredible last-minute winner

Highlights

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Schalke v City: Match highlights

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Once again City retained total trust in Guardiola’s core principles of possession, precision passing, and rapid movement and the reward was Riyad Mahrez’s vital 55th minute winner.

Similarly, the Blues came up against determined and dogged opposition in our league home match against West Ham in late February.

And, once more, patience eventually told, with Aguero’s 59th minute penalty securing another crucial three-point return.

There’s no doubting that myriad qualities are required to mould successful teams. Talent and desire are, of course, pre-requisites as is a small smattering of good fortune along the way.

But a quick glance at the history books also reveals that the most successful teams are also defined by that priceless ability to dig deep, demonstrating character and grit, and fight to the finish.

With everything still to play ahead of what promises to be a thrilling final two months of the season, City are delivering on that score in abundance, too.


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