Man City 1-1 Shakhtar Donetsk: Guardiola’s men limp into last 16 after drab draw

But a scrappy draw against Shakhtar Donetsk at the Etihad proved enough to put the Premier League champions into the knockout stages for a seventh straight campaign.

A second half goal from Ilkay Gundogan cancelled out by an equaliser on the counter from Shakhtar substitute Manor Soloman settled a dull encounter at parity.

And while it was enough for Guardiola to have the luxury of resting key players for their final group game away to Dinamo Zagreb in two weeks time, that will be the last time they will get away with a performance as bad as this one in this competition.

City have been battling uphill domestically at times this season and they have gone off the boil in Europe as well with two draws in their last two against Atalanta and Shakhtar.

It was a scrappy, scruffy victory which the final pass proved elusive, their full backs wasted far too much possession and their forwards failed to fire.

Shakhtar have been regular and welcome opposition for City having been paired with Pep Guardiola’s side in each of the last three Champions League campaigns.

And just once in those six meetings have they proved remotely troublesome – a 2-1 defeat in December 2017 the outlier in a run of bruising defeats.

Yet City have been hampered by a growing run of key injuries – the latest to Sergio Aguero on Saturday – and the edges are perhaps beginning to fray.

Raheem Sterling, for one, had his second average game on the run and could benefit from a rest.

Despite enjoying plenty of possession in the opening period they were simply not at the races when it came to finishing.

Ilkay Gundogan and Rodri both picked out the keeper Andriy Pyatov after crafting decent openings in the first quarter of hte match.

The best chance fell to Nicolas Otamendi whose header from an Angelino cross just after the half hour mark, was directed straight into the keeper’s hands.

City had Fernandinho to thank for keeping them level after Ederson had had a rush of blood to the head after quarter of an hour, racing into the left back position to intercept the ball and completely missed his clearance, the air shot gifting the ball to a surprised Tete.

The Shakhtar winger cut inside with a couple of touches and fired a decent shot at goal from a tightening angle only for the Brazilian to get a foot back to deflect it around the post.

It was no surprise Guardiola cut an increasingly frustrated figure on the sidelines as the half wore on as promising forward movement ran up dead ends and the wrong options were taken all too often.

Change did not come immediately after the break with Shakhtar clearly emerging with the intention of sitting deeper to protect the point but City’s relentless pressure eventually paid dividends.

Kevin De Bruyne’s energy and drive in midfield had been evident throughout the night even if the end product was scrappy but his drive on the right managed to get the ball to Jesus and he in turn nudged the ball to Gundogan who hooked home from eight yards out.

City’s lead lasted 13 minutes with Shakhtar exposing the home side with a swift counter-attack finished off with a squared pass from the right byline from Dodo which substitute Manor Solomon buried from 12 yards out.

David Silva nearly gave City a winner but a suitably mistimed effort from eight yards out was hooked off the line by Serhiy Kryvtsov.

It seemed to sum up City’s performance on a night when they failed to fire.


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