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SPORTING 1 – MAN CITY 0: VINCENT KOMPANY WORRY AS SLACK CITY ARE BROUGHT TO HEEL

Published: March 9, 2012 | 10:46 am
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ROBERTO Mancini denied his side showed Sporting Lisbon a lack of respect after slipping to a surprise defeat.

City were beaten by a second-half strike from Xandao – a cheeky backheel – and, to make matters worse, Mancini saw captain Vincent Kompany limp off with a calf problem that could sideline him for two weeks.

Before the game Edin Dzeko angered Sporting by saying he had not heard of any of their players. And after the game Mancini said his men did not deserve to lose.

He said: “We try to play football but can lose sometimes, although I don’t think we deserved to lose.

“I’m not surprised we lost because in football anything can happen. We have another 90 minutes and it will be a different game.”

Kompany will miss Sunday’s trip to Swansea as well as next week’s return leg against Sporting. He is also facing a race against time to face Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium in two weeks.

Mancini is keeping his fingers crossed that Kompany’s injury is not as bad as first feared.

He said: “We should wait a few days because he had a problem in his calf. I hope that for Vinny the injury will be short but, with the calf, it could be a big problem. Maybe 10 days or two weeks maximum.”

Mancini made seven changes and was without Yaya Toure, who was suspended, while Micah Richards failed a late fitness test on his troublesome hamstring.

With Pablo Zabaleta also ruled out, it left Mancini with a problem to solve at right-back and he was left with no choice but to ask Gael Clichy to switch from the left.

There was a recall for Kolo Toure alongside Kompany in the centre of defence, while Nigel de Jong was drafted in to fill the hole left by Yaya’s absence.

There was no place in the starting line-up for Mario Balotelli.

Sporting did have history on their side, never having lost a knockout tie against an English team in seven attempts, dating back to 1964. And they could have taken the lead inside three minutes when Joe Hart raced out of his box to head clear.

His clearance went straight to Stijn Schaars, but his long-range effort was just wide, much to the relief of the England keeper.

City were then hit by the loss of Kompany after just seven minutes, limping straight down the tunnel to be replaced by Joleon Lescott.

Mancini’s men still created a great chance when James Milner’s cross found Toure, but his header was blocked by goalkeeper Rui Patricio.

Dzeko’s flick created a chance for Sergio Aguero but his header went straight at Patricio.

Sporting took the lead six minutes after the restart.

Hart fumbled Matias Fernandez’s free-kick, then did well to block Xandao’s follow-up. But he was powerless when Xandao’s sublime backheel squeezed between him and the post. Ricky van Wolfswinkel should have doubled the lead 11 minutes later but fired straight at Hart.

Mancini threw on Nasri and Balotelli in the hope of finding an equaliser and it almost worked when Balotelli’s cross found Silva, but his effort was inches wide.

Pereira produced a block to deny Aguero right at the death. Mancini said before this game that a run to the Europa League final would not derail their bid to land the title – but, at this rate, we might never get to find out.

express.co

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