Bayern given freedom of the city as Pellegrini’s men are pulverised
Goalkeeper Hart at fault as City are given masterclass by the European champions
Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart lies dejected as Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben celebrates scoring his side’s third goal of the game during the UEFA Champions League match at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Manchester City 1 Bayern Munich 3: It was another night to admire the awesome power of Bayern Munich and, in the process, a collective ordeal for Manchester City and a personal one for Joe Hart.
They have never been outclassed like this, on their own ground, in the Abu Dhabi era and even City’s supporters had started to applaud Bayern before the close.
Manuel Pellegrini’s team played for long spells as though struck down by an inferiority complex. But Bayern’s brilliance does not excuse the home side’s failings.
Hart was responsible for Franck Ribery’s opening goal after six minutes and, to a lesser extent, Arjen Robben’s strike on the hour.
In between, Gael Clichy committed the cardinal sin of waiting for an offside flag that never came, leaving Thomas Müller free to punish them again.
Alvaro Negredo, a second-half substitute, rescued a modicum of pride with a classy turn and left-foot strike before Bayern were reduced to 10 men when Jerome Boateng was sent off, having brought down Yaya Toure as he bore down on goal.
David Silva, another substitute, struck the crossbar from the free-kick but nobody here was kidding themselves. The score flattered the home sideand for Hart in particular, it felt like a night with heavy repercussions.
Hart will wince when he sees the replays, and perhaps the most distressing thing is these mistakes can no longer be considered a shock to the system.
Roy Hodgson was among the crowd and the England manager can expect more questions at today’s press conference to announce his squad for the next two World Cup qualifiers.
Flickers of dissent
He, like Pellegrini, will continue to offer public backing, but on this occasion there were also the first flickers of dissent. At one point Hart claimed a routine shot, aimed straight at him, and there were isolated, ironic cheers. Only a few, but enough to be heard.
For the first goal, Rafinha had played a long, diagonal pass, right to left, out to Ribery.
The Frenchman was given too much space to step inside Jesus Navas before pulling back his right foot to take aim from 25 yards. His shot was struck cleanly enough, but Hart had a good view of it and the bottom line is a goalkeeper should never be beaten at his near post from that distance.
Diving to his right, Hart managed to get his right hand on the ball only for it to flick off his glove and into the net.
Suddenly the insecurities that had symbolised City’s often wretched campaign last season were evident again.
The crowd were flat, taking out their anger on the referee. More importantly, the players looked short of belief, misplacing passes and letting themselves down with moments of hurried carelessness.
Bayern, operating a new system that had Muller pushed forward into attack, demonstrated the composure and togetherness that would be expected of serial champions.
The team that had demolished Manchester United here two Sundays ago offered virtually nothing in that opening period and were probably just glad not to concede more goals.
Best team in Europe
Yet, for all City’s shortcomings, there was plenty of evidence, too, why Bayern are the best team in Europe. Ribery was a difficult, elusive opponent for Micah Richards, an unexpected choice at right-back.
On the opposite flank, Robben stuck to the touchline, meaning Clichy was reluctant to leave his spot and help in attack. In midfield, Philipp Lahm oozed class behind Toni Kroos and Bastien Schweinsteiger.
City, usually so strong in the middle, were overwhelmed. If there was one consolation for City, it was that this Bayern team made Barcelona look hopeless last season, too.
Yet Pellegrini must have been dismayed by the way City sieved the goals. The second was a calamity for Clichy, who simply stopped and hoped for an offside flag as Dante floated the ball forwards. Muller simply ran clear, took the ball round Hart and slipped it into the empty net.
Four minutes later, Fernandinho lost possession in midfield and Robben set off on a weaving run through the right-hand channel, picking up speed, advancing on goal and then beating Hart with a right-foot shot. Again, Hart got his hand on the ball without changing its path. –