Kompany admits City need more time to adapt to Champions League

Wed, Nov 7, 2012, 00:00

GROUP D:Manchester City defender Vincent Kompany admitted that Ajax’s two early goals could probably have been avoided, as they struggled to earn the 2-2 draw that only just keeps their Champions League dream alive.

Siem de Jong was left unchecked at two first-half corners, the Ajax captain able to head home a brace, forcing Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero to dig deep and score the goals needed to keep City within five points of the qualification spots in Group D.

Ominously, City now need to beat both Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, who also drew 2-2 this evening.

Kompany said: “It’s very important to defend as a team when corners come in and we’ve probably let ourselves down on those two occasions.

“Those two goals were really not good. We’ll look back at the game, try to see what went wrong, and try to improve.

“It’s not the case that we’re not good enough for the Champions League but it’s a matter of time. It’s unfortunate that we’re letting those chances go at the moment.”

Mario Balotelli, and City manager Roberto Mancini, were furious not to be awarded a penalty in the final moments of the game, but Kompany was not well-placed to pass judgement.

“You guys have the images and you’ll be able to judge better than me,” he added.

“We didn’t do enough to win tonight and we have to learn from this and take it into the next game.”

Mancini, though, pulled no punches when discussing the performance of the officials, led by referee Peter Rasmussen, as Aguero saw his winning goal ruled out for offside in the final phases.

“The referee and the linesman were really poor. It was a penalty, and it was a goal,” the angry Italian manager said.

“I told (Rasmussen) it was a goal and not offside. I think that we played well but conceded two goals from two corners. We made a lot of chances.”

Mancini was entitled to lose his cool when he allowed himself to become irritated by persistent questioning about his conversations with other clubs during the summer.

But the questions were legitimate, given the Italian’s failure to follow the conquest of the Premier League with credible performances on the grander European stage, and they grew more pointed in retrospect as City conceded two early goals to Ajax last night.

With one point from three matches, some sort of a return was required from last night’s meeting with the four-times winners of the competition, but City’s defence, which has now kept only three clean sheets in 16 matches this season, was once again found badly wanting at set-pieces.

At least there were signs of wounded pride in City’s reaction to a double blow that silenced their supporters. Yaya Toure, who had allowed De Jong to run on and send a glancing header past Joe Hart for the second goal, produced a marvellous piece of chest control followed in the same movement by a falling volley that offered to mitigate the humiliation. And after almost an hour of further suspense, Sergio Aguero’s deft opportunism presented City with a vision of escape.

It would be easy to characterise the match in moral terms, as a Manichaean battle between two opposing and irreconcilable views of how to achieve success in football. Easy, and probably right, since there can be no doubt that whereas City are after success as quickly as possible, at almost any cost, the current Eredivisie champions concentrate their efforts on the good husbandry involved in sourcing their own talent and on adhering to a coherent tactical philosophy passed down from one generation to the next.

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