Manchester City beat Bayern Munich 3-2 in the Allianz Arena to give themselves a huge boost ahead of this weekend’s crunch match against league leaders Arsenal. The result wasn’t enough to see them top Group D, but they now go into Saturday’s game on the back of a memorable night for the club.
After the lacklustre showing against Southampton in their last match, City needed a shot in the arm ahead of the visit of Arsenal, and they got it in emphatic style. Bayern came into the match having not lost in 40 Bundesliga games. They had won their last 18 home games in all competitions, and had won 10 straight Champions League matches stretching back to last season.
In fact, this was the first time in almost 39 years that Bayern lost at home having been 2-0 up.
After 12 minutes, City found themselves 2-0 down. They were disjointed and lethargic, and at that stage their fans were fearing the worst, but the returning David Silva, playing his first match since early November, inspired an unforgettable comeback.
Silva is City's best player, and with his side struggling he suddenly began to get on the ball and influence proceedings. He floats around linking play, with his superb passing ability central to City's attacking football. Indeed, it was Silva himself who scored the goal that got them back into the game—finishing from close range after a James Milner header across goal.
The Spaniard continued to show his importance to the side in the second half with a dazzling display. He left the field after 73 minutes with City 3-2 up, rested for the weekend after inspiring a remarkable comeback. He will almost certainly start against Arsenal as long as there is no reaction to the calf injury that has kept him out since the CSKA match over a month ago.
A special mention must go to Milner, who set up City's first, won the penalty for the second and scored a superb winner—and also to Javi Garcia, who answered his critics with an excellent display. Fernandinho was excellent as ever.
The result was made all the more remarkable when one considers it was a largely second-string side that City put out. Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta and Alvaro Negredo were rested, whilst Matija Nastasic and Gael Clichy missed out through injury.
After two seasons of Champions League disappointment, City can now look ahead to a knock-out stage match for the first time. They secured 15 points, won every game away from home and scored 18 goals en route to qualification. The European hoodoo that was the death of Roberto Mancini has been lifted by Pellegrini, and the winners of the other groups will not want to draw City in the next round.
But for now the focus returns to the Premier League. Saturday's lunchtime match with Arsenal is City's biggest test of the season. A win will reduce The Gunners' lead at the top to just three points. There's no doubt that tonight's result is the best possible way to prepare for such a big game.
Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2013/14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @TypicalCity.