x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Tevez refusal to play makes a sorry night one to forget for City

Manchester City beaten by Bayern Munich 2-0, but the Argentine player makes manager Roberto Mancini's outing worse.

Mario Gomez scored both goals for Bayern Munich on Tuesday night.
Mario Gomez scored both goals for Bayern Munich on Tuesday night.

Much as Manchester City looked forward to evenings such as this, they always came at a risk.

The best can be cruelly ruthless at one end and supremely miserly at the other. They specialise in disappointing others.

A disappointing night for them was compounded when Roberto Mancini, the manager, confirmed that Carlos Tevez, the Argentine striker, "refused to play".

Bayern Munich, the four-times champions of the continent, made it more unlikely that City will return to the Allianz Arena for May's Champions League final.

While Oktoberfest reigns elsewhere in the Bavarian capital, the footballing aristocrats had plenty of cause for celebration themselves.

The European superpowers showed the difficulties the Champions League poses for rookies, no matter how talented.

City's start to the season has been dominated by prolific strikers, but while the theme continued, there was an unpleasant twist in the tale. It was not Edin Dzeko or Sergio Aguero celebrating, but Mario Gomez, now the scorer of a remarkable 11 goals in seven games.

That his swift brace came from a total of about six yards was testament to his predatory instincts. It was also unfortunate in the extreme for Joe Hart, who had made excellent saves seconds before each goal. Sadly for him, Gomez was quickest to respond on each occasion.

The match turned without warning. After an opening half-hour that was quietly encouraging for City, Bayern went from subdued to superb.

Hart saved an awkwardly bouncing shot from Franck Ribery and the otherwise impressive Bastian Schweinsteiger contrived to sky a shot over from six yards, following an enticing cross by Thomas Muller, before the breakthrough.

Ribery was the instigator, cutting in, as is his wont, from the left to shoot. Hart parried, recovered brilliantly to stop Muller's rebound but could do nothing when a stretching Gomez ensured the third effort nestled in his net.

Then, on the stroke of half-time, Hart clawed away Toni Kroos' dipping free kick, but Gomez was on hand again.

The German could have had a hat-trick, volleying Philipp Lahm's cross wide and with a header saved by Hart, while Schweinsteiger, with a dipping shot that the goalkeeper parried, also came close to a third, but the second half was a different game altogether. After Gomez struck, Bayern were in control, Ribery illustrating his class and Schweinsteiger dictating play from the centre of the midfield.

Meanwhile, City discovered, as others have done before, that breaching Bayern's watertight defence is no simple task. This was a 10th successive clean sheet for Jupp Heynckes' side and, indeed, a 10th win in a row.

Mancini's side threatened most in a positive start. David Silva had a plausible penalty appeal while it was a sign of how adventurous the right-back Micah Richards was that he was the most advanced player when he directed an early cross to Dzeko.

The Bosnian's shot was rather tame, however, and a night that began auspiciously for him ended with the striker seemingly unhappy to be substituted and Tevez reluctant to come on.

Meanwhile, about Tevez's behaviour on Tuesday night, Mancini said: "If I have my way he will be out of the club."

Regret and recrimination may follow, but City's task is to regroup: they have four more games in which to get the points to reach the last 16.

sports@thenational.ae