Kevin De Bruyne strikes late to give Manchester City a win

Kevin De Bruyne strikes late to give Manchester City a win

Kevin de Bruyne’s 91st-minute winner gave Manchester City a dramatic Champions League victory over Group D rivals Sevilla.

The Spanish side had taken a deserved lead when Vitolo’s cross was turned in by the impressive Yevhen Konoplyanka.

City quickly equalised when Wilfried Bony’s close-range shot was deflected home off Adil Rami after good work by Yaya Toure.

Sevilla’s quick counter-attacks threatened more goals against a City side that were often caught wide open at the back.

But, for the second successive European game, Manuel Pellegrini’s men snatched three vital points in the dying seconds.

Yaya Toure charged forward in stoppage time and fed De Bruyne, who cut in from the right to score his fifth goal in his last seven games for City and send them into second place in the group.

What does the win mean for City?

Pellegrini’s side are a point behind leaders Juventus, who were held by Borussia Monchengladbach on Wednesday, and three points above Sevilla.

Two of City’s last three group games are away, starting with the return at Sevilla in two week’s time.

Before then they travel across town to take on Manchester United in Sunday’s derby, where Pellegrini will be looking for a big improvement in his defence.

Defensive uncertainty

City had won their previous two home games 6-1 and 5-1, but not without looking wide open at the back at times in both matches, and that vulnerability continued here.

The difference was that City were playing Sevilla, not Newcastle or Bournemouth, and last season’s Europa League winners consistently threatened whenever they came forward.

The continuing absence of captain Vincent Kompany – who was again on the bench for his club despite being considered fit enough to start for Belgium at the start of the month – is an obvious factor.

City have not kept a clean sheet without him in their last seven games this season, and Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi – with a combined cost of more than £70m – again failed to convince with their marking, positional sense or tackling ability.

It was City’s full-backs who struggled the most, however, with Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna, who started out of position at left-back, particularly exposed.

Some of that was down to City’s 4-4-2 formation, which saw De Bruyne and Jesus Navas tearing up the wings.

That just made it more puzzling why Zabaleta and Sagna looked to join them so often, leaving gaping holes behind them that Sevilla exploited.

Attack needs work too

Considering Pellegrini had described it as “must-win” game before kick-off, City did not look much like winning it until De Bruyne struck on the break to pay back a little more of his £54m fee.

City’s attack had been fluid throughout, with Raheem Sterling starting up alongside Bony but often dropping deep and switching with De Bruyne, who operated mostly on the left.

While they created plenty of chances early on, they were far less of a threat in the second half and their lack of striking options were clear in the final 15 minutes when Bony was replaced by Fernando, leaving Toure to lead the line.

Most strikers would look poor in comparison with Sergio Aguero but Bony is a Champions League novice and the signs are he has much to learn at this level.

The £28m Ivorian is still awaiting his first Champions League goal, although he obviously played a big part in City’s equaliser.

But too often he was not on the same wavelength as his team-mates, noticeably when he failed to anticipate a Sterling through-ball in the second half.

It was down to De Bruyne to save the day, but City’s lack of cutting edge was a worrying sign for Pellegrini before his side’s trip to Old Trafford.

Culled from BBC