Match Report: Manchester City 5–3 Monaco
An eight goal-thriller saw Manchester City stun Monaco in their first ever competitive meeting in a Champions League clash at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday
Very much ‘a game of two-halves’ – as two of Europe’s most attack minded teams put on a breathless performance in the Champions League first leg of the last-16, with City remarkably going into the second leg commanding a 5-3 advantage.
A game in which the lead had changed four times, it encapsulated City’s attacking threats but also enhanced their defensive frailties as manager Pep Guardiola will leave the Etihad scratching his head heading into the second leg at Monaco.
It was Monaco who looked brighter early on with forward Kylian Mbappe threatening City with his frightening pace. Despite the early pressure for the visitors it was the hosts and Raheem Sterling who opened the scoring 26 minutes in, when Leroy Sane’s driving effort down the left-hand side found Sterling for an easy tap-in 6 yards out.
Monaco weren’t rattled by the goal, and it was no surprise that a rejuvenated – Falcao – came back to haunt former rivals City, with an exquisite diving-header into the bottom left of Willy Caballero’s net.
Following his dismissal from rivals Manchester United in the 2014-15 season, a rejuvenated Falcao oozed class, proving all doubters wrong, bagging his 23rd goal of the season.
Mbappe quickly demonstrated his frightening pace once more just before half-time. A lofted set piece met the feet of the racing youngster, who thumped his effort past a helpless Caballero.
An early penalty was awarded in the opening minutes of the second half when Nicolás Otamendi brought down Falcao following a Benjamin Mendy cross. After a long delay, Falcao’s tame effort was saved comfortably by Caballero.
With speculation regarding the future of Sergio Aguero since the arrival of Gabriel Jesus, it was Aguero’s chance to prove his brilliance smashing his effort through the legs of Monaco keeper, Subasic on 58 minutes.
Moments later, a Monaco counter attack caught City off-guard when a John Stones missed tackle allowed the onrushing Falcao to cut inside – before chipping the advancing Caballero.
Agureo pulled City back level on the 71st minute with a superb volley, turning home a David Silva corner and settling the nerves for City fans, once again.
Yet another City corner minutes later met defender Stones who made amends for his sloppy defending earlier on in the match against Falcao, tapping home a Yaya Toure flick-on 6 yards out.
City then increased their lead through a lovely linkup play between Silva and Aguero - leaving a stationary Monaco side waving for offside – and a crucial tap-in for Sane, giving City that two-goal advantage.
Falcao might have given Monaco an inexplicable fourth away goal, but for a rare time, Caballero stood firm and denied his shot superbly.
The second leg in Monaco on March 15 will give Guardiola the hope of preserving his proud record of never having failed to reach the semi-finals in this competition.