2019 was a mixed year for Manchester City and The Hard Tackle runs through the top defining moments which shaped the last year for the Cityzens.
2019 was bittersweet for the Manchester City faithful. The first half of the calendar year was filled with success and triumph and followed up with misery and disappointment. The Sky Blues clinched the EFL Cup after defeating Chelsea on penalties in the final.
They then bagged the FA Cup with a resounding 6-0 win over Watford in the final. Lastly, Manchester City defended their Premier League title at the end of another record breaking campaign and edged it by a point over Liverpool.
However, another Champions League exit in the knockout stages, defeat in the Manchester Derby at home and an extremely sloppy defence meant it was a tough end to the year for Pep Guardiola and his men. We, at The Hard Tackle, now take a closer look at Manchester City’s defining moments from 2019.
The win that made all the difference
The Cityzens started the year on a high as they notched up a stunning performance against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. The Reds were the only title contenders along with City, posing a constant threat to Pep Guardiola’s men. Liverpool only fell short of the title by a single point and hence, a win against the Reds was a huge feat which actually decided the title for the Cityzens.
The match was highly anticipated as the Etihad Stadium lit up for the big event and to their delight, Sergio Aguero broke the deadlock in the 40th minute, allowing the Sky Blues to take the lead into the break. However Roberto Firmino’s equaliser around the hour mark made it all square and it needed a hero to turn the tide on either side.
Raheem Sterling found space in the final third as he glided forward towards the penalty area and passed the ball on to Leroy Sane who was in space. The German international launched the shot first time, bundling the ball into the bottom right corner past Alisson to hand City the lead. It eventually became the winner and it was a very crucial win for Guardiola and his men.
At the summit of English football with a domestic treble
It was the day of reckoning for Manchester City last season when they travelled to Brighton to face the Seagulls, badly in need of a win to clinch the Premier League title as Liverpool kept the push until the end.
It wasn’t easy for Pep Guardiola’s side as an early strike from Glenn Murray saw the hosts take the lead against the run of play. However, cometh the hour cometh the man; it was again Sergio Aguero who restored parity and Brighton’s lead only lasted a minute.
The Cityzens slowly started to dominate proceedings as Aymeric Laporte’s strike handed them the lead within the first half before two second-half strikes from Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan put the game beyond all doubts.
The Sky Blues clinched the Premier League title yet again and then followed it up with the FA Cup triumph, defeating Watford 6-0 in the final. Having already picked up the first trophy of the season the end of February, when they defeated Chelsea on penalties in the League Cup final, after the match ended in a 0-0 stalemate, Manchester City went on to complete a domestic treble. It was a historic season for Guardiola and his team domestically.
Spurs, VAR, Misery…
After all that domestic dominance, it was time for Manchester City to prove themselves in Europe as well. Having scored seven goals past Bundesliga outfit Schalke in the Round of 16, the Cityzens had the upper hand when they were drawn to face Tottenham in the quarter-finals.
The first leg in North London started with City’s dominance as they earned a penalty after VAR awarded them a penalty for handball by Danny Rose. However the ever reliant Sergio Aguero, who stepped up to take the spot-kick, was denied by an in-form Hugo Lloris in goal.
The French custodian produced one of his best performances in the season as he kept out everything that came his way. On the other end, Son Heung-min’s thunderous strike handed Spurs the lead heading into the second leg. The drama then unfolded.
The match at the Etihad started with a roar as Raheem Sterling drew first blood, but the relentless Son restored parity. Minutes later, the South Korean stepped up yet again and this time handed the lead to the visitors; all of this happened within ten minutes.
The lead did not even last a minute, though, as Bernardo Silva settled the scores with Raheem Sterling getting his brace, as City led heading into the break. Aguero took the lead even further when he scored near the hour mark and it looked like another Manchester City masterclass.
However, Fernando Llorente had other ideas, as the big target man got his head to a Kieran Trippier corner and guided it past Ederson in goal. But, a slight deflection on his thigh created all the confusion as the Manchester City defenders claimed for handball. VAR allowed the goal to stand.
Late in the game, a sleek pass from Bernardo Silva allowed Aguero to run in behind the Spurs defence before the Argentine squared the ball to Sterling in space. The Englishman made no mistake to put it past Lloris, and the stadium erupted.
But, to their disappointment, VAR ruled the goal out because Aguero was offside in the build-up. It was misery for the home fans as they hardly had any luck on the day, which ended up with another Champions League knockout stage exit.
Vincent Kompany: The King calls time on his reign
Vincent Kompany has been with Manchester City before the start of the previous decade, a decade which saw them turn into a European force in football. By the end of last season, though, the Belgian defender decided to depart the Etihad and return to his native to join Anderlecht, where he had been offered a Player-Manager role. Pep Guardiola respected his decision and allowed Kompany to leave.
Kompany joined the club from Hamburg in 2008 and left the Cityzens after more than a decade. In this time period he was part of the whole transformation that the club went through and his leadership and character made things easier for the managers at the helm. Other than the leadership, Kompany’s stark game reading ability bailed out Manchester City lot of times and his ever reliant character allowed managers to build their defense around him.
A decade full of leadership, legacy, tackles, goals and much more. The 33-year-old will definitely go down as a club legend and the most decorated player in the club folklore.
Contrasting fortunes in the Manchester Derby
The Manchester derby is one of the biggest and fiercest rivalries in the world. Manchester City dominated the proceedings at the start of 2019. The Cityzens were convincing in their 2-0 win at the Old Trafford, with the win giving them the much-needed momentum to clinch the title later in the season.
Two second-half strikes from Bernardo Silva and Leroy Sane handed the victory to the visitors as the Red Devils produced a very drab display in one of the fiercest fixtures of English football. However, it was redemption time when both sides met this season, in a contest last month, as United were determined to turn the tide in their favour at City’s den.
It was a convincing 2-1 win for the Red Devils right at the end of 2019 and one could say that the defeat came as a turning point for the Sky Blues, as far as the current season is concerned, as they started dropping points which has resulted in Liverpool running away with the title race in the Premier League.