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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 26 March 2019

Raheem Sterling winner caps late Manchester City comeback at Schalke

Another famous Champions League night for Pep Guardiola as 10-man team recover from deficit to win 3-2 away

Manchester City's Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring their third goal. Action Images via Reuters
Manchester City's Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring their third goal. Action Images via Reuters

Raheem Sterling sealed a dramatic 3-2 Champions League win for 10-man Manchester City at Schalke as the English champions scored twice in the last five minutes on Wednesday.

Sterling tucked away the winner at the Veltins Arena in the 90th minute just after substitute Leroy Sane fired home a stunning free-kick for the Premier League leaders against his former club in the last 16, first leg.

Schalke led 2-1 at half-time as the video assistant referee twice intervened to award penalties, both converted by Nabil Bentaleb, cancelling out Sergio Aguero’s opener in Gelsenkirchen.

City were in real trouble with 22 minutes left when Nicolas Otamendi, who gave away the controversial first penalty, was sent off for a second yellow card before Sane’s moment of brilliance and Sterling’s winner.

But City still have some work to do in the return leg on March 12 with Fernandinho, who was booked when conceding the second spot-kick, and Otamendi both suspended.

Schalke are just above the Bundesliga’s relegation places and winless in their past four league games, yet they gave Premier League leaders City a huge scare.

The hosts initially struggled to get out of their half as Man City dominated the opening 30 minutes, until the game swung dramatically Schalke’s way with the two penalty decisions.

Schalke shot themselves in the foot for City’s opening goal at 18 minutes when a lazy pass from goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann to Salif Sane was snapped up by David Silva.

The Spaniard drew Faehrmann and selflessly served up a simple tap-in for Aguero to claim his 10th goal in his past seven City appearances.

But falling behind sparked life into Schalke.

Striker Mark Uth fired wide, then former Tottenham midfielder Bentaleb got the better of Ilkay Gundogan in midfield.

A cheer also went up when US international Weston McKennie nicked the ball off Kevin De Bruyne.

Schalke drew level after Daniel Caligiuri fired in a speculative shot that clipped Otamendi’s arm.

There was a delay of nearly three minutes for a video review, which Sky reported was caused by a technical problem as referee Carlos del Cerro Grande could not view the replay.

Despite City’s furious protests the spot-kick was duly awarded, and Bentaleb tucked it away to the delight of the home crowd at 38 minutes. They would be celebrating again soon after.

The Germans took the lead when Fernandinho pushed Senegal defender Salif Sane when a free-kick flew into the box, and the video referee again intervened and another penalty went Schalke’s way.

Bentaleb stepped up to smash the spot-kick past Ederson and put Schalke ahead.

The second half was a much more even affair with Schalke no longer intimidated to be playing star-studded City.

In turn, the visitors’ problems were compounded on 68 minutes when Otamendi clattered Schalke’s replacement forward Guido Burgstaller and was dismissed.

City manager Pep Guardiola reacted by swapping midfielder David Silva for veteran centre-back Vincent Kompany to settle the defence.

In a bid to turn the match with 13 minutes left, Leroy Sane came on for Aguero and the Germany international produced the goods against the club he left in 2016, before Sterling latched on to goalkeeper Ederson’s long clearance as the home defence hesitated, and slotted in.

Updated: February 21, 2019 08:16 AM

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