Thursday 15 March 2012
Manchester City produced a thrilling comeback against Sporting Lisbon at the Etihad Stadium, but it was not quite enough as they exited the UEFA Europa League.
The visitors led 1-0 from the first leg and they went in front just after the half-hour mark when Chilean striker Matias Fernandez thumped a 25-yard free-kick into the far corner past Joe Hart.
Sporting doubled their lead on the night just before half-time when Marat Izmailov crossed from the right for Ricky van Wolfswinkel to convert from close-range.
But City fought back superbly after the break and after Sergio Aguero fired into the top corner, Mario Balotelli slotted in from the penalty spot to make it 2-2 on the night.
Aguero hooked in another with six minutes left on the clock, and though City threw everything at Sporting, keeper Joe Hart had a header magnificently saved in the dying seconds as the Portuguese side clung on.
Manchester United also went out of Europe after losing to Athletic Bilbao at the Sam Mames Stadium in Spain.
The hosts, who had won the first leg 3-2 at Old Trafford last week, added to their advantage thanks to a stunning volley from striker Fernando Llorente in the first half.
Iker Muniain had already hit the post by then, and Bilbao went further ahead when Oscar de Marcos thumped in with his left foot from 12 yards.
United pulled one back thanks to a wonderful 22-yard curler from Wayne Rooney, but it was not enough to claw themselves back into the tie.