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Wednesday 19 September 2012

Roberto Mancini calls for courage after late defeat by Real Madrid

Two late goals send Manchester City to Champions League defeat while Arsenal claim opening win

  • City were unable to hold on to leads given to them by Dzeko, left, and Kolarov, centre

  • Podolski, scorer of Arsenal's first goal, congratulates Gervinho, centre, on his winner

Roberto Mancini called on his Manchester City side to show more courage after they went down 3-2 to Real Madrid in their opening UEFA Champions League Group D encounter despite leading 2-1 with three minutes remaining.

City looked to be heading towards a famous victory in the Bernabeu after Aleksandar Kolarov's free kick in the 85th minute had restored a lead initially won by Edin Dzeko in the 69th minute but cancelled out by Marcelo's deflected strike seven minutes later.

However, substitute Karim Benzema equalised again for Real and just as injury time started Cristiano Ronaldo’s dipping shot gave Real the win. Mancini felt that his team defended too deep to allow the Spanish champions the chance to win the game.

"When you score two goals here and are 2-1 you should pay more attention"
Roberto Mancini

"It is difficult not because we lost - we can lose against a side like Real Madrid - but because with four minutes to go it was 2-1," the City manager said. "In the first half they played better than us but in the second half we played well and scored two goals.

"When you score two goals here and are 2-1 you should pay more attention. I saw the [Ronaldo] goal … the mistake was we went too deep, only this. We should have had more courage at this time."

There was more success for the other English team in Champions League action last night as Arsenal opened their Group B campaign with a 2-1 victory in Montpellier. After going behind to a Younes Belhanda in the ninth minute, Arsenal struck twice in three minutes through Lukas Podolski and Gervinho and hung on despite second-half pressure from the French champions.

Steve Bould, the Arsenal assistant manager who was stepping in for Arsene Wenger, who was serving a UEFA ban, was pleased with the result and had special words for Podolski, who scored his third goal in three matches for his new team.

"It was difficult,” Bould said. “We were excellent in the first half - we kept the ball and kept the crowd quiet. We looked a little bit tired in the second half, because it was very humid and the crowd got behind them.

"I've not seen many finishers as good as Podolski - ever"
Steve Bould

"Podolski has made a real impact. I've not seen many finishers as good as him - ever, right foot, left foot, they always go in at 100 miles per hour in training. He is a good trainer, a good boy and has really added something this year."

Bould added that the win would give the team a psychological boost for their Barclays Premier League match away to City on Sunday.

"We will go to Manchester City with a bit of confidence," he said. "It is better being this way, but it is a proper test. It is where we want to be and hopefully we can come away saying we did OK again."

Chelsea, who defeated Bayern Munich to win their first European Cup in May, commence their defence on Wednesday night, hosting Italian champions Juventus at Stamford Bridge.

Three-time champions Manchester United who are looking to play a third European Cup final at Wembley, having beaten Benfica in 1968 and lost to Barcelona two years ago, are at home to Galatasaray, the Turkish champions, on Wednesday.

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Key Points

  • Manchester City manager says his team defended too deep to concede late Champions League winner
  • Arsenal win opening match against Montpellier through goals from Podolski and Gervinho
  • Steve Bould says win will lift side before trip to Manchester City on Sunday