Review and Player Ratings from breathtaking Etihad comeback – Manchester City 2-1 Borussia Dortmund
Pep Guardiola took charge of his 150th Champions League game against Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday night as his Manchester City side completed another comeback to secure three more points at the top of Group G.
The Catalan did so in typical Guardiola fashion by starting an unconventional defence, consisting of Joao Cancelo, John Stones, Nathan Ake and Manuel Akanji, who was lining up in the Yellow and Black strip of the German side three weeks ago. Stones was tasked with the right-back role while Cancelo retained his position at left-back.
Kevin De Bruyne, Rodri and City captain Ilkay Gundogan, another former Dortmund man, occupied the three midfield spots.
Julian Alvarez missed out for the third successive time since scoring his brace against Nottingham Forest, with Guardiola opting for Riyad Mahrez, scorer of a penalty last time out against Dortmund and Jack Grealish to partner former Dortmund striker Erling Haaland.
Mahrez had the first chance of the game. Whether it was intended to be a shot or a cross, Alexander Meyer had to hold the ball tight to prevent an early lead by the home side.
For the first 10 minutes, City dominated possession but were unable to create any clear-cut chances early on, while on the other side of the pitch, Ake had to be alert and make a last-ditch tackle from behind on Dortmund's captain, Marco Reus, to deny the German from providing any danger to Ederson's goal.
Some great recovery play as Gundogan was fastest to collect a loose ball on the edge of Mats Hummels' led box, and he lifted the ball nicely out to Mahrez, who tried to return the favour to Haaland – but surprisingly, a man in yellow rose higher than the Norwegian.
Dortmund had their first attempt of the game just after the quarter of an hour mark through Salih Ozcan. Dortmund's #6 cut inside and tried to curl into the far right corner, but it was too central, and Ederson held on as calm as ever.
Dortmund striker Anthony Modeste thought he found himself with a good chance, but the referee determined the striker fouled Akanji to retrieve the ball.
It was more of the same from Guardiola's side as they dominated the ball but still couldn't cause the German side's defence any problems. Grealish was getting a little joy out on the wing, but any time the Englishman cut inside, his shot was blocked.
In the second half, Reus, the goalscorer for Dortmund last time they came to the Etihad, nearly repeated that feat as he came inches from finishing off a counter-attack, but after Akanji went sliding past his fake shot, he couldn't quite curl it into the far corner and City were lucky to escape without conceding.
Less than five minutes later, the Blues had conceded. Reus turned creator this time as his cross on the half-volley was met by Jude Bellingham, who wheeled off into celebration right in front of the travelling fans.
Guardiola reacted immediately by making a triple substitution. Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and Alvarez all entered the action for Gundogan, Grealish and Mahrez.
Soon after, Haaland was played in behind the Dortmund defence for the first time of the night, but, unfortunately, it was an incredibly tight angle, and the 6'5 centre-forward could only direct it towards the post.
After the home side went behind they looked re-energised, and they began to find the angles and the spaces to make line-breaking passes but Dortmund's defence was producing fantastic blocks and interceptions to keep the scoreline at 0-1.
Stones, who had arguably been one of City's best players on the night, alongside Rodri and Akanji, took matters into his own hands and scored an absolute screamer from 20-yards out. You could argue that the goalkeeper could have done better, but to take nothing away from the strike from City's #5.
City looked to immediately build on their equaliser and get the ball down the left-hand side to Foden, Cancelo and Silva.
It didn't take the home side long to take the lead for the first time of the night as an absolutely phenomenal assist by Cancelo, who used the outside of his right foot to pick out Haaland, who timed his run perfectly to acrobatically volley the ball into the back of the net, something you would expect to see from Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Alvarez looked dangerous and had a great chance to add a third onto the scoreline, but it was the first shot on target that City didn't score from all evening.
Once again, City came back from behind.
Once upon a time, the Citizens would never have imagined coming from behind once, let alone every time the side concedes first. But Guardiola won't be happy with his side conceding leads, and he will look at ways to prevent this in the future.
Even when Haaland doesn't quite get the service throughout the game, he has shown once again that all he needs is one good pass, and he will punish the opposition – something City have so tirelessly missed in the last year.
Man of the Match
Until the 80th minute, there wasn't a man of the match, but Stones was one of a few City players who barely put a foot wrong all game and then inspired yet another comeback.
Playing in a position where he started his career, he would have been the least likely player to turn to when needing a goal late on in the game, but his goal was one for the catalogues at the end of the season.
Honourable mentions to all three substitutions, who changed the game with their different attributes that the Dortmund defence ran out of answers for.
Ederson - 6
Stones - 8
Akanji - 7
Ake - 7
Cancelo - 7.5
Rodri - 7.5
De Bruyne - 6
Gundogan - 6
Mahrez - 5.5
Haaland - 8
Grealish - 6
Subs: Alvarez - 7, Bernardo Silva - 7, Foden - 7.5
What's up next for Manchester City?
Guardiola's men travel to the West Midlands to face Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday, 17th September, being the early kick-off on BT Sport, with coverage starting from 11:30 am BST and kick-off an hour later.
Written by: @DanGP17_
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