Dec 10, 2013, 4:51 PM EDT
Bayern Munich’s record 10-match winning streak in UEFA Champions League is no more, with a rotated Manchester City team overcoming a two-goal deficit to produce one of the most surprising results of this year’s tournament. After goals in the first 12 minutes from Thomas Müller and Mario Götze, Bayern appeared to be on their way to a perfect group stage, yet a City team starting six reserves got goals from David Silva, Aleksandar Kolarov, and James Milner, handing the defending champions their first Champions League loss in nine months.
Though the 3-2 defeat at the Allianz Arena won’t cost Bayern Group D — FCB’s two-goal win in Manchester giving them the tiebreaker over the Citizens — it was Bayern’s first home loss under Pep Guardiola, the club was without a defeat at home since March’s 2-0 Champions League loss to Arsenal. In all competition, Bayern were unbeaten since their German Super Cup loss to Borussia Dortmund (July 27), today’s loss ending a 27-match undefeated run.
For the Citizens, a team that had already confirmed their knockout round spot, the win does nothing for their position in the competition, but with a short history of pronounced disappointment in this tournament, the result marks City’s biggest win in Champions League. And for a man whose Real Madrid team fell short of glory in Spain at the boots of Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, Manuel Pellegrini is sure to savor a victory that quells any notion the Chilean can’t beat his former La Liga adversary.
With a multi-goal win, Manchester City had a chance to take the group from Bayern Munich, and opportunity City’s boss seemed to pass on before the opening whistle. Joe Hart was back in goal for Costel Pantillimon. The long forgotten Joleon Lescott came in at Vincent Kompany‘s expense, with Micah Richards starting at right back. James Milner was deployed out left while the returning David Silva got a start up top along side Edin Dzeko. Add in Javi Garcia in midfield for the suspended Yaya Touré, and this was an XI picked to rest its stars, not win a Champions League group.
Against a Bayern team that saw Philipp Lahm return from injury, the approach had all the success you’d expect. Five minutes in, the defending champions were on the board, a drilled diagonal from Dante finding Thomas Müller behind Aleksandar Kolarov, with the German international’s second touch sending a ball behind Joe Hart for the opening goal. Seven minutes later, Mario Götze was abandoned at the edge of the six-yard box on a corner kick, a ball from Mario Mandzukic finding the Bayern midfielder for an easy second goal. The quarter-hour pole still minutes away, the route appeared to be on.
Be it through Bayern complacency or City’s ascendance, the visitors soon found their way into the match, trading attacks with their hosts instead of merely absorbing the holders’ advances. Whereas Bayern’s pressure high through the middle had troubled City at the outset, the team chasing a two-goal deficit had adapted and were soon creating chances of their own.
In the 28th minute, City broke through, halving Bayern’s lead through Silva. Off a cross from Jesus Navas, Milner came in from wide left to head back toward the middle, with an acrobatic play in front of goal from Silva allowing a high leg from the Spanish international to turn the ball toward goal. Beating a transitioning Manuel Neuer, Silva brought City within one.
Going into halftime, Bayern had regained full control, and while that didn’t translate into goals, they were keeping City from threatening Neuer. Near the hour mark, however, two mistakes quickly turned Bayern’s one-goal lead into a one-goal deficit, putting the defending champions’ 10-match Champions League winning streak in jeopardy.
In the 59th minute, Dante was judged to have brought down Milner in the far left of the penalty area. Though the Bayen defender didn’t appear to have committed foul before hearing David Fernández’s whistle, City was still given a chance for their equalizer, with Kolarov’s conversion making it 2-2.
Three minutes later, Milner went from supporting cast to lead actor, curling a right-footed shot from wide left inside Neuer’s far post, giving City’s rotated side an unlikely lead. Playing a cross from Jesus Navas that had eluded Jerome Boateng, Milner opened his right foot onto a ball from well wide of goal. Catching Neuer moving back to the left post, Milner curled his shot toward the far upright, his spin on the ball sending the shot diving into the far netting, putting City up, 3-2.
From there, Manchester City were able to start packing it in, central midfielders Fernandinho and Garcia sitting deep to protect the defense. While the game became more one-sided, a Bayern team “held” to 58 percent possession now monopolizing the ball, the dynamic didn’t yield chances. City were ready to hold out for the upset.
By match’s end, Bayern hadn’t found a way to threaten Hart, a smiling Pep Guardiola readily conceding defeat at the final whistle. Though the Bayern boss’s regret was surely tempered by the knowledge his team had won their group, his congratulations seemed earnest, the former Barça head coach embrace the hand of a man who’d just found his first victory over a rival.
Bayern Munich: Thomas Müller 5, Mario Götze 12
Manchester City: David Silva 28, Aleksandar Kolarov 59 (p.k.), James Milner 62
Bayern Munich: Manuel Neuer; Philipp Lahm, Jerome Boateng, Dante, David Alaba; Thiago Alcántara; Thomas Müller, Mario Götze (Javi Martínez 55), Toni Kroos, Franck Ribéry; Mario Mandzukic (Xherdan Shaqiri 68)
Substitutes: Rafinha, Diego Contento, Daniel van Buyten, Claudio Pizarro, Tom Starke
Manchester City: Joe Hart; Micah Richards (Pablo Zabaleta 16), Martín Demichelis, Joleon Lescott, Aleksandar Kolarov; Jesus Navas, Javi Garcia, Fernandinho, James Milner; David Silva (Álvaro Negredo 73), Edin Dzeko
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