Manchester City Loses Home Opener Against Lyon

Manchester City became the second British team to see their Champions League fortunes reduced to ruins in Milan after a shock 0-1 loss to Olympique Lyonnais on Tuesday. The three-time European champions built a…

Manchester City Loses Home Opener Against Lyon

Manchester City became the second British team to see their Champions League fortunes reduced to ruins in Milan after a shock 0-1 loss to Olympique Lyonnais on Tuesday. The three-time European champions built a big, but shambolic, lead with Leroy Sane’s sublime opener, but were knocked out of the competition at the semifinals stage for the first time in 12 years after a valiant comeback was ruined by France defender Houssem Aouar’s late winner. City’s slender advantage was taken when Sane ran onto Riyad Mahrez’s sweetly struck through ball and beat Thibaut Courtois with a lovely low finish in the 65th minute. Mahrez doubled the score moments later with a typically emphatic finish from substitute Gabriel Jesus’ flick in added time, but he was then dismissed for a terrible lunge at French defender Wylan Cyprien. Real Madrid won 4-0 against Anderlecht in the earlier match and by that stage, Manchester City’s lead in Group F looked like being too small to overcome. Their resilience ultimately proved decisive in the end, but City coach Pep Guardiola did nothing to allay fears of an immediate drop in form — and the team’s Champions League swansong — with an insipid performance against Lyon. In addition to what was an oddly subdued Sane, there was a strange lack of verve from Etihad Stadium regulars Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus. With 47 goals in all competitions this season, Aguero should have been a star attraction, but was largely useless, rifling wide when well-placed. When he did force Lloris into a save he thought he had, he lost his balance at the crucial moment and allowed the keeper to gather. Then, with City facing a two-goal deficit, Jesus went out of his way to belittle the Mesut Ozil-inspired team by taunting the German midfielder, who was benched for the first time in his City career. That incident was all the more noticeable given the dressing room brawl that had broken out between City’s Nigeria starlet Kelechi Iheanacho and another Arsenal player just two minutes earlier. The fight ended up being settled by the Arsenal staff, who just as calmly handled a challenge between Iheanacho and Dmitri Payet, and having another player headbutt Payet’s team-mate Arjen Robben — although Robben had already been booked for handling the ball to prevent City scoring. One on one between Iheanacho and Robben was adjudged too violent for the referees to punish. City look likely to be knocked out of the Champions League at the group stage for the first time since 2011-12. Their shortcomings had been widely expected to be exposed by a back four of Lyon that featured Cyprien, who has also just arrived from Arsenal, Laurent Koscielny, who retired from international football over the summer, and Anthony Lopes, whose last game in that position came in 2012. With Ederson struggling with a hamstring problem and Claudio Bravo rested, City had a partly revamped defense that had conceded only one goal in four previous games — a 4-0 defeat at Bayern Munich in the group stages. They could have been ahead after a minute when Mahrez’s fine shot was pushed out for a corner by Lloris. It was the start of a strangely tame display. Courtois’ every attempt was met with a muted response from the visiting defense and team-mate Eric Bailly almost provided the breakthrough when his penalty was saved by the Arsenal goalkeeper. The narrow margin of City’s victory underlined the significant gulf in talent between the English club and French champions Lyon. Manchester City will be forced to wait at least another year to secure a place in the last 16. CITY TOPS GROUP F

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