Sergio Aguero almost single-handedly provided Manchester City with a Champions League lifeline by scoring a hat-trick in the 3-2 victory over Bayern Munich on Tuesday night.
Two goals from the Argentinian in the last five minutes secured a first win in the group for Manuel Pellegrini’s side leaving them needing to beat Roma to progress to the last sixteen. With the Germans already qualified as group winners, there had been some concern about whether they would be fully committed to the game but those questions were soon answered.
Having been reduced to ten men and gone a goal behind after the sending off of Medhi Benatia, Bayern hit back with goals from Alonso and Lewandowski. That is how the game stood until five minutes from time when Aguero made the most of some slack defending to level the scores. City still needed an unlikely victory to have any chance of qualifying and the striker was again on hand to apply the finishing touch as the clock ticked down.
It was reminiscent of Aguero’s last-gasp goal that secured the Premiership title in 2012. City were presented with a chance to regain the title last season when Liverpool faltered in their closing two matches but they have not been playing like champions this season. Only a late Frank Lampard goal rescued a point at home to leaders Chelsea and the gap between the two sides is eight points going into Saturday’s fixtures. City face a tough match at high-flying Southampton who currently sit in second place, two points above them.
The situation could hardly be more delicately poised going into the final group matches in the Champions League. If City beat Roma they will go through, providing CSKA do not beat Bayern Munich in the other game. If both matches end in a draw, Roma would go through. City would go through with a score draw against the Italians and a win for Bayern over CSKA.
Roma held City to a 1-1 draw in the opening group game in September with veteran Totti cancelling out Aguero’s early penalty. Roma were good value for the point, although they did have to survive a late onslaught from City. With home advantage, it is expected to be a much more attacking Roma side that City face on December 10th. The Italians conceded an equaliser from CSKA three minutes into injury-time on Tuesday and that could come back to haunt them next month.