Keeper chaos sees Walker don gloves as City draw at Atalanta
Champions League Group C – Giuseppe Meazza – Atalanta 1 (Pasalic 49’) Manchester City 1 (Sterling 7’)
Kyle Walker ended Manchester City’s match at Atalanta in goal after substitute Claudio Bravo saw red late on in their 1-1 draw, which prevented Pep Guardiola’s side from booking an early spot in the last 16.
Raheem Sterling rounded off a fine team move to put City in front inside seven minutes, having started it himself by winning possession high up the pitch.
VAR then took centre stage when a City penalty was changed to a free-kick minutes before another check saw referee Aleksei Kulbakov consult the pitch-side monitor and award the visitors a spot-kick – which Gabriel Jesus duly fired wide.
Bravo replaced Ederson at the break and Atalanta were a different team in the second half, pressing City and showing some attacking intent. Within four minutes of play resuming they had produced a goal as Mario Pasalic - on loan from Chelsea - headed in an equaliser and left City to rue their missed chances.
Claudio Bravo saw red against AtalantaGetty Images
Walker saved the subsequent free-kick, albeit initially spilling the effort, and he saw out the final minutes unscathed as City moved onto 10 points in Group C with two matches remaining.
No rest for many of City’s stars. Given the magnitude of the game against Liverpool in four days, it was slightly surprising that Pep Guardiola played what was close to a full-strength team. No side has ever failed to reach the knockout rounds having won their first three games, so it’s not like this was a must-win match, and indeed Guardiola may now be without Ederson.
Raheem Sterling esulta per il gol dell'1-0 all'AtalantaGetty Images
However, perhaps just as important is the fact that Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Fernandinho all played the full 90 minutes and will have a day less to prepare than the opposition. Guardiola neither achieved qualification tonight or rested key figures, so it has to go down as a failure for the club.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Raheem Sterling (Man City). Atalanta couldn’t really cope with City’s attacking movement or pressing and Sterling was at the heart of most of his team’s best moments. With 17 goals in 20 games for club and country this season, he’s delivering on a consistent basis and has to be in the discussion when it comes to listing the world’s best players, having clearly established himself as City’s leading forward. Maybe he should take their penalties as well.
Sterling - Atalanta-Manchester City - Champions League 2019/2020 - Getty ImagesGetty Images
7’ - GOAL! Atalanta 0-1 Man City (Sterling). Sterling wins the ball back and offloads to Silva. He finds Jesus, who backheels the ball delightfully into Sterling's path and he slots home! That's a lovely goal.
39’ - PENALTY (EVENTUALLY)! Sterling is pulled back by Toloi as he looks to collect a through ball and a penalty is given! VAR takes look though and says it's just outside the box, so City have a free-kick. Sterling takes and it hits the arm of Ilicic in the wall. We got to VAR and, after all that, City do indeed have a spot-kick.
42’ - PENALTY MISSED! After a nonchalant run-up, Jesus makes a scuffed connection with the ball and sends it at least a yard wide! That was dreadful.
49’ - GOAL! Atalanta 1-1 Man City (Pasalic). Gomez is allowed space to pick a cross from the left and he finds Pasalic, who had got between Mendy and Fernandinho and powers a header past Bravo! Well then.
Mario Pasalic headed in Atalanta’s equaliserGetty Images
81’ - RED CARD! With Bravo charging out of his goal, Ilicic gets to a through ball first, taps the ball past the sliding goalkeeper and then goes to ground! Bravo was miles off his line - we're going to VAR but it won't help him.
88' - SAVE! Walker's first act is to spill a free-kick, but he gathers at the second attempt.
Atalanta: Gollini 7, Castagne 6, Toloi 5, Djimsiti 6, Palomino 6, Hateboer 6, De Roon 5, Freuler 5, Gomez 6, Pasalic 7, Ilicic 6. Subs: Malinovskiy 6, Muriel n/a.
Man City: Ederson 6, Cancelo 6, Fernandinho 6, Otamendi 6, Mendy 5, Gundogan 6, De Bruyne 6, B. Silva 6, Mahrez 6, Sterling 7, Jesus 5. Subs: Bravo 5, Aguero 6, Walker 7.
- This is Atalanta’s first-ever Champions League point.
- City have scored in every away game this season.
- In his last 11 Champions League appearances, Sterling has scored 10 goals and provided four assists.
- Walker made more saves tonight than Bravo.