Manchester City FC's UEFA Champions League bandwagon is finally rolling after Sergio Agüero's added-time winner left unlucky Villarreal CF empty-handed.
Substitute Agüero turned in Pablo Zabaleta's low cross to earn a first UEFA Champions League victory for a City side who had previously endured a frustrating evening. The visitors belied their poor early-season Liga form, taking the lead through Cani after four minutes and keeping City at bay after Carlos Marchena's own goal had restored parity just before the break. City's victory takes them on to four points, one behind second-placed SSC Napoli in Group A, while after a third defeat Villarreal need a miracle when the teams reconvene at El Madrigal on 2 November.
Villarreal had scored one goal in nine away games prior to arriving in Manchester yet they made a dream start. Jonathan De Guzmán intercepted a David Silva pass some 35 metres from goal and supplied Giuseppe Rossi for a shot from inside the D of the penalty area that Joe Hart could only parry, allowing Cani to slot home.
After a subdued start, the home supporters sought to rouse their favourites but with limited success. Samir Nasri volleyed over a cross from Aleksandar Kolarov after 13 minutes before Kolarov himself tested Diego López with a free-kick.
That pair were two of five changes from City's Saturday defeat of Aston Villa FC but Roberto Mancini made another change with half-time approaching. Shortly after seeing Yaya Touré rob Cristián Zapata but screw his shot out for a throw-in, Mancini withdrew Adam Johnson and sent on Gareth Barry, allowing Touré to push higher upfield.
As it was City had a helping hand with their equaliser soon after. Silva and Nasri combined to send Kolarov on an overlapping run and his low centre was turned into his own net by Marchena, the defender making a vain attempt to deny Džeko, who might have scored a second either side of half-time but on both occasions failed to get the ball past López.
Kolarov did find the net but was offside yet Villarreal were not just sitting back. Rossi's speed and ability to find space guarantees a threat and he tested Hart with a low strike after 52 minutes. The introduction of Agüero gave Villarreal something else to worry about although it looked like a defence marshalled impressively by Gonzalo Rodríguez would hold firm after Džeko and Zabaleta spurned late chances. Instead, deep into added time, Agüero finally sank the Yellow Submarine.
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