Roberto Mancini declared Man City's Champions League campaign over after seeing his side held 2-2 by Ajax on a contentious evening at the Etihad Stadium.
Tuesday’s result left the English Premier League champions five points below second-place Real Madrid in Group D with only two points from four games, and although wins in their last two matches could take them through, Mancini feels it is too late. “I don’t think we have a chance. I think we are finished in the Champions League now,” said the City coach, who went onto the pitch to confront referee Peter Rasmussen at the final whistle.
“Eight points if we win both games. If we do that and go through, we can win the Champions League. It would be our destiny.” City had two penalty appeals turned down, one for an early challenge on Yaya Toure and the other in injury time after Mario Balotelli appeared to be manhandled in the visitors’ box. They were also controversially denied an 88th-minute equaliser when Aleksandar Kolarov was ruled to have strayed offside before crossing for Sergio Aguero to tap home. Mancini admitted haranguing the match official about the decision not to let Aguero’s goal stand. “I said it was a goal," he said in his post-match press conference.
Mancini’s opposite number, Frank de Boer, said he thought the officials were denying Aguero's goal. “I thought immediately that Kolarov was offside. For the other one (Balotelli’s penalty appeal), I couldn’t see from the bench. But at times you have good luck with referees,” he said.
Ajax captain Siem de Jong capitalised twice, scoring from close range in the 10th minute and then heading in at the near post in the 17th minute after City were twice caught napping at corners. However, Toure’s fine chest-and-volley mid-way through the first half brought the hosts back into the game before Aguero equalised 16 minutes from time. With a 3-2 loss at Real Madrid and a 3-1 defeat at Ajax before this, City are on the verge of elimination in the group phase of the Champions League for the second year in a row.
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