Manchester City progressed to the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in the club’s history following a goalless draw at the Etihad against Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday.
The Premier League outfit went through on the strength of their 3-1 win in Ukraine, and although it was a historic result for the Citizens, there was more bad news on the injury front. Both first-choice centre-backs Vincent Kompany and Nicolás Otamendi had to be substituted in the first half of the game.
However, manager Manuel Pellegrini believes his defensive unit answered their critics by keeping a clean sheet in a match he saw as a tactical battle against the Ukrainian side.
“For me, it was more a tactical game where we didn’t want to force the game. Dynamo, they didn’t take any risks also,” Pellegrini said after the match, according to Goal UK. “It is difficult a bit to analyze but so many times this team has received criticism that we don’t know how to defend. We defended without any problems.”
The Chilean also expressed his pleasure at being able to guide Manchester City to their maiden Champions League quarter-final. The 62-year-old added, “It is always important to have a new achievement for your club. We had a very difficult group this season, with Seville, Juventus and Borussia Monchengladbach representing the three other best leagues in Europe.
“We won the group so I think that this season, I don’t know if we are better prepared, but we had more experience to arrive at this stage. I hope that we can continue further.”
The result was soured by the recurrence of captain Vincent Kopmpany’s calf injury, which he has now suffered an incredible 14 times since arriving at the Etihad. The Belgian had to be replaced by Eliaquim Mangala after just 7 minutes, and Pellegrini revealed that it was not good news for the 29-year-old.
“Vincent again has a muscle injury in his calf, same as he had before,” said Pellegrini (via Manchester Evening News). “We will know tomorrow or the day after tomorrow how serious it is.
“But always with muscle injuries it is minimum of a month.”
Manchester City season could fall apart
The Citizens face Manchester United this Sunday, and the injuries to both Kompany and Otamendi could not have come at a worse time. The Belgium international has featured in only 19 of City’s 46 matches this season, and the overwhelming majority of clean sheets have come with him in the side.
Pellegrini’s men are currently chasing Leicester City in the Premier League, with the Foxes 12 points ahead having played an extra game. However, the absence of Kompany is a huge blow, and the defensive vulnerability City have shown in his absence could cause them to be dragged into the battle for top four with Manchester United and West Ham.