Date: 11th March 2011 at 12:39pm
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As the day dawned with clear blue skies, blazing sunshine and sub-zero temperatures with a biting frost, those of us hardy souls in Kyiv did not really believe what this match would go on to produce.

The ice was in full flow on the Dniepr River adding an extra chill to the pretty parkland around the Valeriy Lobanovskiy Stadium and there was going to be no real heroes from Manchester lighting this place up last night.

With temperatures probably around -8c as the game got under way it immediately became clear that some City players didn’t fancy it. A robust home side playing some reasonably fluent football took command and got the breaks when they needed them.

At the start Silva tried to get things rolling for City. With Balotelli and Dzeko ahead of him, the line-up looked a little adventurous for an away fixture in Europe, but maybe Mancini had aspirations of taking a done deal back to Eastlands next week. It was not going to be.

As City failed to make the early headway they needed, Richards rolled back the months and found himself on the wrong end of a mazy run by Yarmolenko, Hart responded slowly to the cross and who should pop up, right place, right time but ex-Chelsea flop Shevchenko. He got in front of Hart and turned the ball home to the glee of the Dinamo Ultras stationed in that corner.

City tried for a while but simply couldn’t make any headway in the chill of the night.

The evening was probably best summed up by Balotelli arriving late for the second half due to some reported allergy to the type of grass. I wonder…was it the fertiliser? Was it the fertiliser performance from Mario? Was the grass simply too cold? Who knows.

City did well to keep in touch as the evening progressed and on attack were always it seemed just one pass away from opening up the Dinamo defence. It just wouldn’t happen for the boys in navy blue last night.

A 0-1 defeat might have been seen as a bit of a result but in 77 minutes a combined (lack of) effort from the back line gifted what could turn out to be the tie winning goal Gusev, whose performance was a thorn in City’s side all night.

As they easily passed Kolarov and neither Hart nor Kompany dealing with the ball in, Micah again looked flat footed as Gusev did the business in creating the mountain for City to climb next week.

There was a hunger about Kyiv, a squad boasting 7 home grown players who played well and collectively for each other. At the business end of any tournament there are no free rides and City discovered this to their cost last night.

Again I couldn’t understand the tactics, so maybe I’m not Vital material, but again Mancini left the left hand side exposed without the protection of Zabaleta and left Yaya withdrawn in the centre of midfield.

Barry had no natural outlet wide left and Silva tried in vain to work the channels but nothing was coming off. Dzeko often had to come deep to look for the ball and despite some signs that there was life, Balotelli had another of his unproductive nights. Is it now one yellow card per goal???

We will find it difficult to break this team down and get a clear 3 goals on them at home. A clean sheet is absolutely essential. I think we’re heading for the exit door if we let them score and let them score cheaply like we did last night. Don’t forget Hamburg when 2 cheap goals cost us the tie. We are a better team now but we are playing against a club with a Champions League pedigree, who will not willingly surrender the position they have created for themselves.

We now have 2 season-defining matches in 5 days. I don’t want to be reporting this time next week that we are ‘concentrating on the league’.


 

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