Munich: Manchester City’s night of triumph against Bayern Munich ended in farce as Manuel Pellegrini and his players misunderstood goal difference rules and sacrificed a late opportunity to top their Champions League group.
City recovered from two goals down to beat the hosts 3-2, but had they scored one more in the closing stages they would have avoided a potential nightmare draw in the knockout stage.
City were tasked with bettering the 1-3 loss they suffered to Bayern at the Etihad, and while that was broadly considered to be a 3-0 win, a 4-2 victory would have sufficed courtesy of superior away goals. James Milner, who scored the winner, admitted the players thought they needed a 5-2 win. It was evident from post-match comments from Pellegrini that he too did not know a 4-2 win would have been enough.
When Milner put City ahead, Pellegrini made a tactical change by taking off David Silva and Edin Dzeko and his team played on the counter-attack in the closing stages.
Pellegrini was asked if he realised a 4-2 win would have put City ahead of Bayern, and indicated he would have made a substitution if he thought his side needed a fifth goal. “Maybe if we had have scored a fourth goal I would have made the change,” he said.
The oversight may prove expensive for City when the last-16 draw is made, as they will face a group winner, the likes of Barcelona or Real Madrid.
Meanwhile, David Moyes revealed the frustrations he has endured as Manchester United manager by admitting he was forced to “get tough” with his players at half-time as his team toiled to a victory against Shakhtar.
Moyes said, “We need to win matches and the players responded well to that encouragement. We passed the ball much better after we had given it away terribly in the first half and that’s not like us.