Manchester City's 7 Most Mesmerizing Victories Under Roberto Mancini
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Roberto Mancini's time as Manchester City manager has been an interesting one to say the least. He's won three trophies—an FA Cup, a Community Shield and a Premier League—but he's not gotten City out of the Champions League group stage.
He's also had a number of run-ins with his players, including his well-documented grappling match with Mario Balotelli and desire to punch Samir Nasri. But all in all, considering where City were before his arrival, he's done well.
Sure, he's had plenty of monetary support to create the team that won the Premiership last year. But his tactical know-how has molded a team of mercenaries into a formidable foe. A number of teams have felt his wrath—here's a rundown of some of the best wins from the Italian's tenure.
City 1-0 United (April 16, 2011—FA Cup Semifinal)
Pablo Zabaleta falls victim to Paul Scholes. (Telegraph/AP)
The 2010-11 FA Cup put City on the map as a legitimate title contender. A strong run saw them reach Wembley, where they were drawn against bitter rivals Manchester United in the semifinals, marking the stadium's maiden Manchester derby.
The Red Devils took early control but couldn't convert a bevy of chances. Dimitar Berbatov was the most guilty, managing to put one well over the bar from three yards out. City grabbed hold late in the first half, and their control would pay dividends after the break.
On 52 minutes, a poor pass from Michael Carrick gifted possession to Yaya Toure. The Ivorian made no mistake, bursting past Nemanja Vidic and sliding one home between Edwin van der Sar's legs. The goal was scored in front of the traveling fans in sky blue, who rightly went nuts.
Paul Scholes would later be sent off for the tackle pictured on this slide, and City went on to the final with a 1-0 victory. How would that one turn out?
City 1-0 Stoke (May 14, 2011—FA Cup Final)
Then-captain Carlos Tevez lifts the FA Cup.
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Looks like it turned out quite well. City's first silverware in 35 years—as United fans were happy to remind City fans until this point—came at the expense of Stoke City. A 1-0 victory matched the scoreline from the semis, and incidentally, it had the same scorer.
The game opened up with City dominating from the get-go. Toure would come close with an unstoppable drive from long range that barely bent past the wrong side of the post. That, coupled with a Balotelli bender that was well-saved, were signals of intent.
But intent would have to wait until the 75th minute to be converted into a goal. A cheeky flick that actually worked out (more on that later) from Balotelli sparked a move that saw the ball dink around in the box. Eventually, Toure ran at it full speed and could have broken the net as he cannoned it home.
City fans were again afforded front-row seats of the Ivorian's work and would celebrate the club's biggest accomplishment of the Mancini era to that point.
LA Galaxy 1 (6-7) 1 City (July 22, 2011—Friendly)
Adam Johnson has a crack at goal.
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Okay, so maybe this is cheating a bit. This match, part of Herbalife's World Football Challenge in 2011, pitted City against Major League Soccer powerhouse Los Angeles Galaxy. This match made some headlines for reasons both good and bad.
The bad, of course, came close to the half-hour mark as Mario Balotelli, who had already scored in the match, had a great chance to knock in a second. However, he decided to have this disgraceful attempt at goal, and he was roundly booed and subbed shortly afterward.
His lack of trying to score was punished when the Galaxy equalized, and the match ended up in a shootout. In the ninth round of the back-and-forth, crowd-pleasing display, City keeper Joe Hart stepped up and blasted home from 12 yards to end it. And he put on a bit of style afterward, too.
United 1-6 City (Oct. 23, 2011—Premier League)
Edin Dzeko informs everyone how many goals City scored. (Getty Images)
If the FA Cup win over United put them on the map as contenders, the derby win in October the following season put the entire footballing world on notice. This was an absolute demolition of their cross-town foes in front of the Old Trafford crowd to boot.
Having been in the news for setting his house on fire with fireworks just a day earlier, Balotelli set the scene. A composed finish was followed by the revelation of the infamous "Why Always Me?" shirt.
Balotelli would be the center of attention once again soon after the break. He was tugged down by Jonny Evans, and the English defender saw red straight away. The Italian then added a second before Sergio Aguero made it three.
Darren Fletcher's late consolation was barely even that, as Edin Dzeko still had time to bag a brace and set up David Silva for a goal in between. A shell-shocked United fell to an unbelievable 6-1 home defeat, one that will go down as one of the most gratifying results in City history.
City 3-2 Sporting (Mar. 13, 2012—Europa League)
Sporting's Rui Patricio denies Joe Hart's headed effort.
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City's 2011-12 season saw them barely eliminated from the Champions League in the group stage, dropping them into the Europa League. After dispatching former winners Porto in the first knockout stage, they were drawn against Sporting CP in the round of 16.
A close-fought 1-0 defeat in Lisbon gave City a good shot at getting through. But two first-half markers in the return leg from the Portuguese giants put the aggregate at 3-0, meaning it would take four goals for the home side to go through.
That's when it almost happened. Sergio Aguero netted near the hour mark, and then Balotelli added a penalty with 15 minutes to spare. A second from Aguero leveled the aggregate scoreline, sending the Etihad into pandemonium, as they knew the miracle was on.
But try after try to complete the turnaround came in vain. The best chance came as Joe Hart ran unmarked onto a 96th-minute long ball and thumped a solid header, but opposite number Rui Patricio got his fingertips on it. The ball missed the post by a fraction, and the dream was dashed.
City won the match 3-2 but went out of the competition on away goals. A bitter end to the campaign, but things would get better in the last couple of months.
City 1-0 United (April 30, 2012—Premier League)
Captain fantastic Vincent Kompany celebrates his derby winner.
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Coupled with the Europa League exit was a drop down the Premier League table. From the heights they reached post derby, they found themselves eight points behind United with six matches left to play. But things would turn around quickly.
A run of wins, coupled with a pair of United slip-ups, meant winning the second league derby would put City level on points at the top and ahead on goal difference. And boy, did they do just that.
In typical City style—or at least for the third time on this list—the boys in blue went out and picked up a 1-0 victory. Just before halftime, Vincent Kompany ghosted around in the box and was able to get free as a corner came in.
The Belgian skipper rose high and whacked it home with that brilliant head of his. He celebrated exuberantly, as did the rest of the raucous crowd at the Etihad. The league was theirs to lose…
City 3-2 QPR (May 13, 2012—Premier League)
Sergio Aguero rips his shirt off in celebration. (MCFC.co.uk)
And they would not surrender it. The most dramatic day in the entire sporting world in 2012 was May 13. That was the day City snatched glory from the jaws of despair.
The day they stole the title from their bitter rivals. The day they left their stamp on England and all of football.
Pablo Zabaleta would open the scoring late in the first half. But second-half strikes from Djibril Cisse and Jamie Mackie—the latter coming after Joey Barton's disgraceful behavior—shook the landscape. Wayne Rooney had put United ahead at Sunderland, and they were coasting to victory.
As defeat began to loom large at the Etihad, the fourth official's board offered one last blessing: a green "5" to signify five final minutes. Edin Dzeko made that count straight away, thumping in a header from one of City's many corners in the closing stages.
And then came the moment at 93 minutes, 20 seconds played. The wonderful desperation pass from Balotelli. The last-ditch attempted tackle from Taye Taiwo. Martin Tyler's voice resounding throughout England: Aguerooooooooooooo!
City went from 2-1 down to 3-2 winners in stoppage time—from falling at the final hurdle to lifting the trophy. It only lasted one season, but it was well worth the ride.