SAMIR Nasri and Pablo Zabaleta struck in the second half as Manchester City reached the Champions League knockout stage with a brilliant 2-0 win at Roma.
Scorers: Nasri 60, Zabaleta 86
French playmaker Nasri chose the perfect moment to score his first goal of the season, smashing in a shot via the woodwork on the hour at the Stadio Olimpico.
Until then a City side without three of their key players had been second best but Joe Hart was outstanding and they grew in confidence to claim a famous victory when Nasri set up Zabaleta after 86 minutes.
It completed a remarkable comeback in Group E, with progress having looked unlikely just a couple of weeks ago. CSKA Moscow’s defeat by Bayern Munich confirmed that City, who had just two points after four games, would join the Germans in the last 16 against the odds.
City’s task had seemed all the more daunting before kick-off when captain Vincent Kompany failed to prove his fitness and missed out along with the injured Sergio Aguero and suspended Yaya Toure.
It quickly started to look like goalkeeper Joe Hart would have a busy night as Gervinho got behind the defence and volleyed a cross which was scrambled clear. Jose Holebas then went through on Hart but scuffed a shot that went through the keeper’s legs but Zabaleta got back to clear.
Gervinho threatened again with good runs through the middle and down the left but City crowded him out and then saw Ivorian blaze over.
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City had a chance when Gael Clichy found space to cross for lone striker Edin Dzeko but the Bosnian could not keep his header down.
City survived twice more as Adem Ljajic shot over and Gervinho, after breaking from inside his own half, drove across goal and wide.
Nasri reached the byline to pull back for Dzeko, but the striker scooped over and Jesus Navas had a strike disallowed.
Maicon and Gervinho both shot at Hart as Roma continued to look the better side but James Milner forced Morgan de Sanctis to block after breaking through.
Gervinho wanted a penalty after going down in the area but Serbian referee Milorad Mazic was not interested and booked Dzeko and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa for some pushing and shoving in the aftermath.
It came against the run of play when Nasri struck in the second half, hitting a ferocious shot from the edge of the area which crashed in off De Sanctis’ near post.
But the job was still far from done and Hart palmed over from Radja Nainggolan’s powerful drive.
Francesco Totti shot over and frustration became evident in the Roma ranks as Ljajic slammed a water bottle into the ground after being substituted.
City breathed a sigh of relief as Kostas Manolas headed against the post from a free kick and Martin Demichelis cleared off the line from Mattia Destro.
But City then dug in and gained precious breathing space when Nasri held the ball up in the area and Zabaleta ran in to slam home a second goal in the dying moments.
Roma: De Sanctis, Maicon (Florenzi 79 ), Manolas, Yanga-Mbiwa, Holebas, Pjanic, Keita, Nainggolan, Ljajic (Iturbe 67), Totti (Destro 70), Gervinho. Subs not used: Strootman, Curci, De Rossi, Astori.
Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Mangala, Clichy, Jesús Navas (Silva 67), Fernando, Fernandinho, Milner, Nasri (Kolarov 89), Dzeko (Jovetic 78’). Subs not used: Sagna, Caballero, Lampard, Boyata.
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