Manchester City FC took a big step towards reaching the UEFA Champions League knockout phase with a 2-1 victory against PFC CSKA Moskva on a chilly evening in the Russian capital.
Manuel Pellegrini's men had to come from behind in the Group D fixture, the hosts having taken a 32nd-minute lead through Zoran Tošić's fine lob. City's response was immediate, with Sergio Agüero showing his predatory instincts to get on the end of David Silva's cross and, eight minutes later, putting his team in front from Álvaro Negredo's intelligent centre.
There was a contrast of styles throughout, with CSKA adopting a more direct approach to counter the difficult playing surface while the visitors adhered to their fluid passing game. It was the home side's route-one methods which paid off first. Keisuke Honda flicked Igor Akinfeev's clearance into the path of Tošić, who produced a composed left-footed finish over Joe Hart.
The Citizens' reply was swift. Two minutes later, Agüero seized on Silva's left-wing delivery and nipped in front of the static Sergei Ignashevich to prod the ball past Akinfeev. With half-time approaching, City moved ahead. Agüero was once again in the thick of the action, heading past Akinfeev at the far post after an excellent cross by Negredo.
Both teams looked to attack after the resumption and Yaya Touré and Seydou Doumbia each went close with headers that drew fine saves from the respective goalkeepers.
City's makeshift centre-back pairing of Javi Garcia and Matija Nastasić were struggling to cope with the Army Men's direct style, although Leonid Slutski's charges failed to ply the lively Doumbia with decent service. Substitute Ahmed Musa, who came into the match without a goal in his last nine hours of football, thought he had equalised with a strike from distance, but his effort was ruled out for a foul on Touré in the build-up.
The unmarked Honda, however, spurned an excellent chance in added time to earn his side a point. Controlling a cross which had deflected off Nastasić's head, the Japanese international volleyed straight at Hart's legs from close range. With that, CSKA's hopes of a draw had gone. The result leaves them three points behind their second-placed opponents going into the reverse fixture on 5 November.
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