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April 11, 2013

City rue legacy of misfiring match-winners

Sports

April 11, 2013

LONDON: Manchester City’s victory at Manchester United will have only sharpened the defending champions’ sense of frustration at their failure to keep pace with Alex Ferguson’s side in this season’s title race.
Twelve months ago when the teams clashed at the Etihad Stadium, Vincent Kompany’s first-half header propelled the league title towards the blue half of Manchester for the first time since 1968.
But City’s inconsistency and United’s ruthlessness have long since drawn any suspense from the battle for the English crown.
As a result, though it was cheered into the night by City’s fans, the away side’s 2-1 success at Old Trafford on Monday is likely to matter little in the final reckoning, with United still 12 points distant at the table summit.
Instead, victory merely vindicated City manager Roberto Mancini’s pre-match claim that, in a head-to-head showdown, his side are at least the equals of the team on the brink of wresting the title from them.
“This win was important for us for the second position but this shows that we did not deserve to be 15 points behind,” Mancini said.
“The title is finished. It does not matter how many points behind. We are not close to them. They score more than us and that is the difference.”
Mancini’s last point about City’s relative lack of fire-power has been a recurring theme in his attempts to explain the gulf that has been allowed to open up between the teams.
City finished last season with 93 league goals — a figure matched by only Chelsea’s free-scoring 2009-10 Double-winners in the last 10 years.
The goals have dried up throughout the team. Sergio Aguero has found the net only 10 times. Mario Balotelli, who notched 13 goals in 2011-12, had scored just once before he was shipped out to AC Milan in January, while David Silva and Samir Nasri have also endured disappointing campaigns.

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