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UEFA Champions League

  • September 30, 2014
  • • 2:45 PM
  • • Etihad Stadium, Manchester
  • Referee: B. Kuipers
  • • Attendance: 37509

Manchester City 1-1 Roma: Evergreen Totti pegs City back

The legendary Italian scored a first-half equalizer and neither team could break the deadlock after the break.

Francesco Totti became the oldest goalscorer in UEFA Champions League history as in-form Roma claimed a 1-1 Group E draw at Manchester City.

The host enjoyed a near-perfect start Tuesday as Sergio Aguero won and converted an early penalty before familiar frailties in Europe's premier competition came to light for City.

Its defense was rarely allowed to settle as Roma produced superb attacking movement and took complete control of midfield, with Miralem Pjanic to the fore. The Bosnia international supplied the ammunition for Totti to find a 23rd-minute equalizer with a brilliant finish, with the Italian taking the record from Manchester United hero Ryan Giggs three days after his 38th birthday.

Although Roma failed to recreate its first-half dominance after the break, the draw does far more favors for the Italian outfit in the wake of an opening 5-1 victory over CSKA Moscow. The Russian champion is up next for City, which is winless in two outings and yet to score from open play.

As expected, Joe Hart returned in goal for City in place of Willy Caballero after two games on the bench, while there was also a change in goal for Roma as Morgan De Sanctis (groin) failed a late fitness test to hand Lukasz Skorupski a rare start.

Experienced City center back Martin Demichelis replaced Eliaquim Mangala following the latter's shaky showing in Saturday’s 4-2 win over Hull City, facing up to a Roma attack featuring Totti, Gervinho and Alessandro Florenzi.

Roma right back Maicon returned to face his former club and displayed the inauspicious form on show all too often during his season at the Etihad Stadium when he hauled back Aguero to concede a fourth-minute penalty.

Aguero coolly converted, but Maicon almost made amends at the other end when he flashed a venomous strike against the underside of the crossbar after Totti's delicate chip had unlocked the City defense.

That close call appeared to rob City of its early poise and Hart was out sharply in the 18th minute after Gervinho had evaded Vincent Kompany, before the equalizer arrived from a familiar source.

Totti spun in behind Kompany to collect a perfectly weighted pass from the excellent Pjanic and lifted a superb finish over Hart.

Roma was fortunate not to concede a second penalty when a prone Kostas Manolas blocked Jesus Navas' cutback with his outstretched arm, but the visitor almost led after 43 minutes when Gervinho raced beyond Gael Clichy and Demichelis to draw a fine save from Hart.

James Milner replaced Navas at halftime as Manuel Pellegrini sought to stem Roma's midfield dominance, but Hart was again the goalkeeper in action seven minutes after the restart.

Florenzi's cross struck a flat-footed Demichelis and fell invitingly for Pjanic, with Hart spreading himself effectively. Pjanic then arched a curling 25-yard effort narrowly wide as City laboured, despite Milner injecting energy to proceedings.

City midfielder Fernandinho exchanged passes with Yaya Toure and the recently introduced Frank Lampard to prompt a vital last-ditch challenge from Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa in the 60th minute.

Five minutes later, Pjanic lashed a shot over from the edge of the area - a moment of wastefulness out of keeping with his all-round display - before Skorupski got down well to his left to stop Lampard continuing a purple patch in front of goal.

David Silva prodded the ball narrowly wide from Pablo Zabaleta's stoppage-time center, but City has plenty to do if they are to avoid a third group-stage exit in four seasons.


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