Manchester City goes through in Champions League after win at Roma
ROME (AP) — Samri Nasri scored one goal and set up another as Manchester City won 2-0 at Roma on Wednesday to reach the knockout phase of the Champions League, eliminating an Italian side that still seemed to be feeling the effects of its 7-1 thrashing by Bayern Munich.
It looked as if Roma was set to go through until Nasri found the target with a long, rising shot on the hour mark. Then Pablo Zabaleta doubled the visitors' lead in the 88th following a perfect pass from Nasri.
Roma's best chance was a header off the post from Kostas Manolas in the 72nd. Bayern Munich easily won Group E — considered perhaps the competition's toughest — with 15 points following a 3-0 home win over CSKA Moscow. City finished second with eight points, Roma was third with five and will play in the Europa League. CSKA finished last, also with five points.
The victory was all the more impressive considering that City was missing three top players. Top scorer Sergio Aguero is out with a serious knee injury, star midfielder Yaya Toure was suspended, and captain Vincent Kompany sat out injured.
Entering the Stadio Olimpico, City faced a steep challenge to avoid its second group-phase exit in three years. Without Aguero, Edin Dzeko spearheaded City's attack with support from James Milner, Nasri and Jesus Navas.
Roma had a similar 4-2-3-1 formation with Gervinho, Miralem Pjanic and Adem Ljajic behind captain Francesco Totti.
Roma had the first chance five minutes in when Jose Holebas was set up by Totti and nearly got his shot under Joe Hart but the City goalkeeper managed to slow the ball just enough to prevent it from going in. After a strong start from Roma, City began to move forward and Milner threatened from the left flank in the 20th, testing Roma goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis.
Then it was Nasri's turn to set up Dzeko, who was blocked by Manolas and couldn't find the target. Milner had another opportunity in the 39th, forcing De Sanctis to push the ball wide. Combined with Bayern's win, a 0-0 draw would have been enough for Roma to advance — which would have been no small feat following the devastating home loss to Bayern in October.
But Nasri had other ideas, taking advantage of the slightest amount of space at the edge of the area and banging in the decisive goal off the post. Then the Frenchman's set up meant Zabalata merely had to slot the ball past De Sanctis from the center of the area.