In a night that will go down in Sky Blues folk law, Manchester City left the Stadio Olympico this evening with a vital 2-0 win over Serie A side Roma.
That spelled misfortune for the Italians but was the precise result the Premier League champions needed to see them advance to the Champions League’s round of 16.
Aside from the result however, there was still plenty to take from the feisty, firey, tooth-and-nail ninety minutes. And just to prove it, here’s three things we learned from City’s historic win.
Many feared the worst when City announced their starting line-up tonight. As you can see below, it didn’t include Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure, David Silva or Sergio Aguero – essentially, the spine of the Premier League champions:
Man City XI – Hart, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Mangala, Clichy, Fernandinho, Fernando, Navas, Nasri, Milner, Dzeko. #BoreDrawBreakers
— bet365 (@bet365) December 10, 2014
It took them a while to get going, but eventually the squad depth pulled through in the absence of their more talismanic stars.
Samir Nasri, who’s struggled for a place over the likes of James Milner, David Silva and Jesus Navas this season, netted this vital strike on the hour mark:
Before supplying Pablo Zabaleta for City’s second of the match:
There’s been questions over the cost-effectiveness of City’s squad depth for some time. But having now secured one of the most important European wins in the club’s history, surely the debate is over.
Yes. There it is. I’ve said it. Much-maligned former Arsenal forward Gervinho was underrated in the Premier League.
The Ivory Coast winger claimed just nine goals in two seasons for Arsenal and became particularly famed for his lack of composure in front of goal. Who remembers this point-blank miss against Bradford City in the Capital One Cup?
Well, since joining Roma in summer 2013, he’s looked a completely different player. He grabbed twelve goals last season and also netted in the reverse fixture against City at the Etihad.
The 27 year-old failed to repeat the feat this evening but he was by far the most potent threat the Serie A side had to offer – as shown below:
Impressively enough, he was up against top class full-back Pablo Zabaleta for the majority of the match.
So maybe we rushed to judgement too soon in the Premier League, but Gervinho appears to have finally found his home at Stadio Olympico.
Remember the tirade of abuse Martin Demichelis received last season? Remember all those pundits saying he was too slow, too inconsistent on the ball and not talented enough for the Premier League? Remember how he was made a scapegoat for Manchester City’s defeat to Barcelona at the Nou Camp?
Remember how, even after winning the Premier League title as centre-back partner to Vincent Kompany, many still questioned his credentials as Argentina fouled their way to the 2014 World Cup final?
Well, City fans know that the 33 year-old is a more than capable defender at Champions League level, with bags of experience and natural leadership abilities. In the absence of captain Kompany he put in a sensational Man of the Match display against Roma this evening, effectively winning City the vital European clash.
His seven clearances were the most of any player of either side – but that hardly tells the story. Incredibly, the Argentina international cleared the ball off the line twice to keep City’s clean sheet, not to mention the result, intact.
He’s also got a unique knack of looking incredibly suave in airports…