Not much to say about the opportunities in this match as they were quite sporadic. Manchester City started cautiously, keeping the ball in their half, leaving Poli to be brave on the attacking phase. The English side felt more dangerous when they climbed up into our half, but the only opportunities were a few missed corners and a free-kick from Tevez, easily caught by Pantilimon.
On the other hand, Poli was trying to overcome their fear, on the guidance of the more experienced Alexa and Contra, the latter who was well prepared for this big game, looking on his top form. Magera also felt on a higher level than his colleagues, providing some heartened duels, while Bourceanu and Curtean tried any tricks they could come up with to lighten Poli's game. Axente, however, felt a bit shaken, probably by the big stake of the match. When the ball came to his feet, he didn't know what to do, and was usually blocked by one of the massive defenders. Our problem was mostly that, with two defensive midfielders, the game was cramped on our flanks, leaving no room for improvisations in the center, and our game lacked that flow that leads to goals.
Anyway, in the second half, things changed, with Manchester City pushing us towards our goal. Overrun, physically and mentally, Poli was pushed in its own half, and barely had the chance to come out. The final possession (60% in favour of City) speaks for itself. Still, there were no big opportunities until the 70 minute mark. After a corner, Yaya Toure receives the ball in the box, and pounces on it, blasting it into the near post. Scutaru, a bit injured and limping, is changed with Zicu, and Contra is pulled back into his place as right-back. This proves fatal, as Adebayor receives on the right, crosses low, past Cisovsky, and Balotelli takes Luchin's face to push it into the empty net.
There was nothing that Poli could do, and the Blues stepped back almost completely, and were mistreating every big opportunities they received on counter attack. A good result overall, although a draw could have been achievable. In attack, City's massive defenders seemed impenetrable, while our defense was very effective until they pushed with all their team in our half, but it also seemed that they didn't even try hard enough.
Not very spectacular for the neutral spectator, or, indeed, even for a City fan, this game is something to learn from, at both the physical and individual levels, because it was surely at a different level from what we've seen on "Dan Păltinișanu" stadium before. I think we'll see a different, more mature Poli in the next championship match.
The players should be congratulated for their determination and ambition that they've put in this match, despite the odds.
Poli: Pantilimon - Scutaru, Luchin, Cisovsky, Sepsi - Contra, Alexa, Bourceanu, Curtean - Axente, Magera
Zicu for Scutaru (min 70)
Mera for Contra (min 80)
Goga for Magera (min 83)