Roma 0 Manchester City 2

ManchesterCity’s rollercoaster Champions League campaign finally hit the heightsyesterday as they clinched second spot behind Bayern Munich in the group, witha priceless away win in Rome clinching their place in the last sixteen. SamirNasri and Pablo Zabaleta were their goalscorers on the night, but they had muchto thank England's number one Joe Hart and their defensive strength for on achallenging night in Italy before they could enjoy their 2-0 victorycelebrations. Even allowing for theirwin, City were still dependent on Bayern beating CSKA Moscow at home in theother fixture in Group E in order to progress, but the Germans proved reliableallies with an efficient 3-0 performance.



It wasnot until Nasri rocketed a pinpoint strike into the net from a slight angle onthe hour mark that they enjoyed a semblance of comfort, after the home side hadseemed likely to score themselves. The icing on the cake was provided byZabaleta with just four minutes left to play, prompting jubilant scenes fromthe travelling fans as they sensed their safe passage to the last sixteen (apipe dream until Sergio Aguero had somehow turned their home match againstBayern Munich on its head last time out) was at last a reality, with thewelcome news from Munich filtering through to them.

Hart had earlier made vital saves to preserve a clean sheetfor the English club, pushing Gervinho’s goalbound effort wide of the post andthen tipping Kostas Manolas’ header against the post.

Intruth, both City and Roma probably deserved to move on in the competition, in agroup laden with the sort of quality bereft in some of the other qualifying groupsand Roma will be formidable opponents for whoever faces them in the EuropaLeague competition that they will now drop into. City will be relieved to go throughafter mixed fortunes during qualifying, winning two, drawing two and losing twomatches along the way.

Bayern were runaway winners, finishing a mighty sevenpoints clear of City.

CanCity move on from here and become genuine Champions League contenders? Muchwill depend on a favourable draw in the next round (due to be drawn nextMonday) one feels, as being only a second placed qualifier opens up thepossibility of a potentially tough draw against another group winner. Therecovery rate of Aguero will also play a major factor it seems, with the likelyrecuperation time before he can slot back into the side being rumoured to be upto two months which is close to the next round's "deadline".

WhetherCity can progress without him seems in the balance, but at least they now havea chance and Manuel Pellegrini’s faith in his expensively assembled squad isbeginning to bear fruit.

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