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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Player ratings as Cityzens come from behind to seal top spot –

  • Man City cemented their place as group winners with a 3-2 win over Leipzig
  • Lois Openda netted twice for the visitors in a shockingly poor first half
  • Erling Haaland & Phil Foden pulled City level after the break before Julian Alvarez’s late winner

Manchester City completed a miraculous second-half comeback to beat RB Leipzig 3-2 and seal top spot in their Champions League group.

Despite sending out a strong team, Pep Guardiola watched his side struggle horribly in the first half as Lois Openda put Leipzig two goals ahead, but City turned the game on its head after the interval.

Erling Haaland and Phil Foden struck to tie things up before substitute Alvarez tapped home a late winner to steer City through to the knockout stages as group winners.


How the game unfolded

Ambitious volleys from Bernardo Silva and Manuel Akanji got things started early on, while Leipzig starlet Xavi Simons sent a nice sight of goal frustratingly wide of Stefan Ortega’s post.

Some route-one stuff handed Leipzig the game’s opening goal 13 minutes in. Lois Openda shrugged off attention from Akanji and collected a long ball from goalkeeper Janis Blaswich, before calmly slotting beyond Ortega.

Ruben Dias headed agonisingly over as City sought an immediate response, but Guardiola’s side appeared a little disjointed in the final third and failed to ask enough questions of the Leipzig defence. Young Rico Lewis blazed over from inside the box, which summed up City’s struggles in the opening stages.

Openda showed no sympathy as he went roaring forward on the counter, this time dispatching of Dias before drilling into the bottom corner to double Leipzig’s advantage at the interval.

City set out to take the game to Leipzig in the second half with the introductions of Jeremy Doku and Alvarez, and the switch in mentality paid off as Haaland found the back of the net ten minutes after the restart.

There was significantly more energy about City’s play in the second half and the equaliser came with 20 minutes to go as Foden turned his way into the box and flashed his composure to strike beyond Blaswich.

Liverpool loanee Fabio Carvalho had the ball in the back of the net soon after but the offside flag, coupled with a quick VAR check, broke Leipzig hearts.

City pushed and pushed for a third goal to seal the win, with Haaland sending a header straight at Blaswich, and they finally poked themselves ahead as Alvarez tapped home from six yards to seal a deserved three points.


Man City player ratings (4-2-3-1)

Alvarez put City ahead late on / Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

GK: Stefan Ortega – 4/10 – For someone who recently made it clear he was not satisfied as a backup goalkeeper, this wasn’t the sort of performance you’d have wanted from Ortega.

RB: Kyle Walker – 4/10 – Spent most of his time failing to create anything as a right winger and was caught out of position as a result.

CB: Manuel Akanji – 4/10 – Humiliated by Openda in a performance which was littered with mistakes and nerves.

CB: Ruben Dias – 4/10 – Also lost his battle with Openda and was fortunate not to be sent off in the first half. An uncharacteristically poor showing.

LB: Josko Gvardiol – 5/10 – Naive defending for Openda’s second as he fell for an obvious dummy. His limitations as a centre-back playing on the left were clear here.

DM: Rodri – 5/10 – Offered very little cover for the defence and wasn’t involved in attack either. A little all over the place in his battle with Xavi Simons.

DM: Rico Lewis – 6/10 – Pushed higher up the pitch when City were chasing the game but wasn’t comfortable. A right-back who started as a defensive midfielder moved to attacking midfielder and ended up back at right-back, where he started to show his best. Deserves credit for filling so many roles.

RM: Phil Foden – 8/10 – Involved in everything once City finally got going. Created the first before scoring the second.

AM: Bernardo Silva – 6/10 – Felt a little lethargic at times but came good when City needed him after the break.

LM: Jack Grealish – 4/10 – Far too quiet. When you’re competing with Jeremy Doku for minutes, performances like this will not help your case.

ST: Erling Haaland – 6/10 – Not his finest night. Haaland snatched at a number of first-half chances but finally found his range as he struck early in the second period.


Substitutes

SUB: Nathan Ake (46′ for Dias) – 7/10

SUB: Jeremy Doku (54′ for Grealish) – 7/10

SUB: Julian Alvarez (54′ for Walker) – 8/10

SUB: Sergio Gomez (90′ for Gvardiol) – N/A

Subs not used: Ederson (GK), Scott Carson (GK), John Stones, Kalvin Phillips, Oscar Bobb


Manager

Pep Guardiola – 8/10 – Clearly tried to give some players the chance to impress but, upon realising his initial plan had failed, changed the game with the perfect substitutions.


Player of the match: Phil Foden (Man City)

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