Premier League champions Manchester City’s second flirtation with the Champions League on Wednesday ended as the first, in a frustrating group-stage elimination after they could only draw 1-1 at home to Real Madrid.
In European terms, Roberto Mancini’s men have yet to make the grade after Sergio Aguero’s second-half penalty garnered only their third point from five outings, leaving nine-time continental kings Real to cruise into the last 16.
Had City managed to hold onto a 2-1 lead in Madrid in the opening match in Group D it could all have been so different — but Real fought back to win 3-2, and two dropped home points against Borussia Dortmund and four more spurned against Ajax closed the door firmly shut on the English side’s ambitions.
City’s England ’keeper Joe Hart was brutally frank in his assessment.
“It’s been a bad campaign for us. It’s incredibly frustrating,” Hart told Sky Sports. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do the business when it mattered.”
Real all but bolted the gate by taking the lead on 10 minutes.
Luka Modric found Angel Di Maria and he swept a high ball into the danger zone for French striker Karim Benzema to leave marker Maicon for dead and sweep home from close range.
Real were on the back foot after Alvaro Arbeloa earned a second yellow card for bringing down Aguero in the box 18 minutes from the end and the Argentine striker sent Casillas the wrong way.
However, that was as good as it got for City — though Aguero could have had a goal when he saw Casillas block a close-range effort right on the line.