Many expected Manchester City’s game against Atalanta to be something of a walk in the park for the Premier League champions, but in the end, there are a million other ways to better describe it than that.
City were able to start like a house on fire, as we’ve come to expect from that, as Raheem Sterling put the visitors into a seventh minute lead. When they were then awarded a penalty it seemed like a given that they’d stroll towards another dominant victory, but after Jesus missed, the tempo of the game just seemed to change.
A bizarre turn of events
The visitors needed a second goal heading into half time, but they just weren’t able to acquire it. As a result, early in the second half, Atalanta grew in confidence and they made that renewed confidence count courtesy of a Mario Pasalic equaliser.
Then, with ten minutes remaining, Claudio Bravo was sent off which ensured we got to see one of the best novelties in all of football: an outfield player going in goal. The player in question was defender Kyle Walker, who actually managed to make a save from the free kick that caused the red card.
For some bizarre reason Atalanta just didn’t test him in the manner they should’ve done, and as a result, they were forced to settle for a point against City instead of all three which would’ve done their qualification hopes a great deal of good.
After the game, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola spoke about his side’s performance as they were able to escape from Milan with a point you could certainly argue they didn’t deserve.
The great escape
“In this competition you know you have your chances and moments and you have to take it. But with the problems we have, we made a good first half. First half, we were outstanding and second, we suffered. In the last 15 minutes we had the issue with the new keeper.
“The second half we didn’t do exactly what we should do. It was few chances conceded against one of the teams who create more. It was a perfect result away and we need one more point to go though.
“When we land in Manchester we will think about the next game in the Premier League.”
It’s a quick turnaround for Pep’s men as they gear up for one of the biggest games of the season against Liverpool at Anfield. If they lose to the Reds they’ll fall nine points behind them in the table, which could prove to be a key turning point in the race for the title.
Atalanta will have to pick themselves up & dust themselves off ahead of an intriguing trip to take on Sampdoria. Given their start to the campaign, they’ll be hoping that they can spring a few more surprises in the next few months.