Manchester City 1-3 Lyon: A minute of madness sends City crashing out of the Champions League
A moment that ended City's season. Sterling misses a tap in to equalise and from the restart Lyon make it 3-1 to knockout City out at the Quarter-Finals of the UEFA Champions League once again
- Photo by Julian Finney - UEFA via Getty Images

Well where to begin after that. Manchester City, first and foremost were outstanding, they dominated the ball from the first minute to last creating opportunities in abundance and even had the luxury of bringing world-class players off the bench. 

That being said it is a familiar nightmare that Pep Guardiola keeps on having at the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions LeagueLiverpool in 2017/18 and Tottenham Hotspur in 2018/19 had been the architect's of Pep's pain in previous seasons and this time it was Olympique de Lyon who added their name in City's Champions League horror stories. 

  • Story of the match

It looked to be a routine evening for City and it was very nearly the perfect start. Joao Cancelo, continuing to be preferred at left-back ahead of Benjamin Mendy slid through a wonderful pass in behind French right-back Leo Dubois into Raheem Sterling, the Englishman proceeded to cut the ball back and bar a brilliant interception from MarcalGabriel Jesus has a tap in after 3 minutes. 

It was very much a case of attack versus defense, City, unsurprisingly dominated the ball, surprisingly they could not get past a dogged and resolute Lyon defence aside from the one chance in the third minute. So often the case this season and in previous Champions League knockout matches, City were caught out with a high line that led to Lyon's first of the night.

A long ball over the top from midfield found Karl Toko-Ekambi who initially did extremely well to hold off Eric Garcia. Despite the efforts from the forward, Garcia to his credit produced a goal saving block to deny the striker. Unfortunately for the centre-back, the ball fell kindly to Maxwell Cornet 20 yards from goal who produced a sumptuous strike around Ederson and into the bottom left hand corner. Unfortunate in the build up? Perhaps, but nothing unfortunate about the goal. 

Chances came few and far between for City however they were very nearly given a reprieve just moments later, a left-footed cross from Cancelo was parried by the diving Anthony Lopes into Ilkay Gundogan's path, the keeper however redeemed himself and smothered the midfielder's shot.

City created another half chance toward the end of the first half as Lyon started to succumb under the Blues' pressure. A through ball by Jesus to Sterling opened up the defence and this time, the Englishman's cutback was successful as Rodri was able to get his shot on target, fortunately for Lyon, their lead remained intact as his shot was straight at Lopes.

As the game resumed, City were struggling to create any clear chances, but as soon as Pep made his first substitution, taking off Fernandinho and bringing on Riyad Mahrez, City started to look their usual selves. On the hour mark Kevin De Bruyne had his first real chance of the match with a free-kick 30 metres out, it was well struck by the Belgian who got it up and over the wall but Lopes was equal to it as he parried it away from goal. 

The free-kick was only a sign of things to come, moments later De Bruyne had another free-kick, even closer but sent it way over the bar. However 20 minutes from time City's shining light in what his been a dreary season stepped up to guide in the equaliser. City's best players of the night Jesus, Sterling and De Bruyne were all involved in the build up.

A pass over the top from the Brazilian to the left to Sterling gave the Englishman a one-on-one against the Lyon defender, City's player of the night saw De Bruyne on the edge of the box and his cut-back was beautifully met by the Belgian who opened his foot up and sent the ball past Lopes into the bottom right hand of the goal. It was huge relief for City who were beginning to think it was not their night. 

Once Pep's side found the equaliser, the second only seemed a matter of minutes away and it very nearly arrived 4 minutes later via Jesus. From the left channel, the Brazilian was allowed to come into the box, thankfully for the Lyon defence, Lopes was on hand to produce another strong save left of the goal.

City were so dominant, a Lyon attacked seemed near impossible, let alone another goal. But as in previous seasons defensive frailties would be their own downfall once again. Former Celtic striker Moussa Dembele on as a substitute for Memphis Depay raced in on goal following Houssem Aouar's through ball, in on goal the striker kept his cool and slid the ball through Ederson's legs to restore Lyon's lead against the run of play. 

VAR has been a major factor in City's failure to reach the semi's of this competition. Last year it was a correct offside decision against Sergio Aguero in the build up to Sterling's disallowed winner against Spurs. Whilst this year, incorrectly, it was a blatant foul by the goal scorer in the build up to the goal. VAR deemed otherwise and Lyon were less than ten minutes away from the semi final's.

In any game, the losing side always has one opportunity to equalise when the time is almost up. This game would prove no different, however, astonishingly, Sterling who had been faultless all night, causing several problems for the Lyon defence had the simple task of equalising with an open goal a few yards after good play from the right-wing by Jesus. Somehow the Englishman skied his shot to the relief of everyone associated with Lyon. 

To compound City's misery, a minute later a long ball from Lopes into midfield eventually found its way left to Aouar, the midfielder had a tame effort parried by Ederson into the path of Dembele who had the simple task of netting past the keeper to all but end City's Champions League run at the same stage for the third straight season. 

  • Takeaways from the match

Pep to blame for the result as he must now take responsibility for City's poor season

Everything had been riding on these last three matches of the season for City.

Victory tonight, next Wednesday in the semi-final's and next Sunday in the final would have made it the best season ever in City's history. 

Now after a woeful defence of the league title, another quarter-final exit in the Champions League as well as the FA Cup being relinquished by Arsenal.

Pep only has a league cup to show for this season in what will go down as a failure of a season.

There is no doubt he is one of the best managers in the world but for all his tactical decisions he got tonight's choices all wrong. 

The best teams in the world don't alter their playing style against anyone and that is why City failed tonight; a back five and only De Bruyne, Jesus and Sterling for creativity, it was set up to be a night of disaster.

Rudi Garcia's men continue to shock Europe as they now face a mouth watering tie against free scoring Bayern Munich

 
Despite City's failures tonight, Lyon and Rudi Garcia deserve immense credit for the way they defended and took their chances tonight.

They were resolute, dogged and determined and a mix of excellent goal-keeping from Lopes coupled with brilliant defending from everyone in that team means they are deserved Champions League semi finalists. 

It will remain to be seen if Bayern is a step too far for Lyon but they can be extremely proud to have reached this stage in a season where they changed their manager and lost three key players last summer in Tanguay Ndombele, Nabil Fekir and Ferland Mendy to Tottenham Hotspur, Real Betis and Real Madrid respectively.

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