Bruised City advance

Manchester City's Joe Hart (left) and Pablo Zabaleta console their skipper Vincent Kompany after the Belgian suffered another injury to his calf, ruling him out for at least a month.
Manchester City's Joe Hart (left) and Pablo Zabaleta console their skipper Vincent Kompany after the Belgian suffered another injury to his calf, ruling him out for at least a month. PHOTO: REUTERS
City centre-back Nicolas Otamendi fell victim to injury too, but his manager is more hopeful of a quick recovery for him.
City centre-back Nicolas Otamendi fell victim to injury too, but his manager is more hopeful of a quick recovery for him. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Kompany, Otamendi may miss crucial ties as City reach first Champions League q-finals

MANCHESTER • Injuries to centre-backs Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi overshadowed proceedings as Manchester City reached the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time after drawing 0-0 with Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday.

Leading 3-1 from last month's away leg, Manuel Pellegrini's side completed the job in forgettable fashion, with Jesus Navas' shot against the post for City the nearest either side came to breaking the deadlock.

But first-half injuries to captain Kompany and Otamendi cast a pall over the evening at a hushed Etihad Stadium, leaving City vulnerable in defence ahead of Sunday's derby with Manchester United in the Premier League.

"Vincent unfortunately has another muscular injury in his calf, which he has had before. Usually with muscular injuries, minimum a month," Pellegrini said.

"Otamendi has an important kick and can hopefully recover in the next couple of days," he added.

While progress in the Champions League represents a historic achievement for Pellegrini, the injuries could have a costly impact on City's attempt to resurrect their domestic title challenge.

  • Key man at the back

  • Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany brings stability to their defence, and they have lost more games when he has been out injured this English Premier League season:

    WITH KOMPANY
    Played: 13
    Won: 8 (six clean sheets)
    Draw: 3
    Lost: 2

    WITHOUT KOMPANY
    Played: 16
    Won: 7 (two clean sheets)
    Draw: 3
    Lost: 6

The League Cup winners have fallen 12 points below leaders Leicester City, although they retain a game in hand, and face challenges from both United and in-form West Ham United for their top-four place.

Sadly, the match will mainly be remembered for another injury to their captain.

Kompany's distress was a wretched sight, a sadly familiar one for City supporters, who have seen their captain suffer his 14th calf injury since 2008.

The Etihad was almost consumed by a collective sigh as their thoroughbred centre-half pulled up lame after five minutes.

The Belgium defender is one of the most popular figures at City not solely because of his defensive prowess but also because such an eloquent, conscientious individual makes a fine ambassador for the club.

His acknowledged leadership qualities are also much needed by a team hardly brimming with defiant characters. City rarely look as organised and determined when Kompany is in the treatment room.

His team-mates knew immediately what had occurred as Kompany stopped, fell back and sat on the cold, heavily watered pitch. Joe Hart and Pablo Zabaleta rushed across to their stricken comrade, attempting to console a man beyond consoling.

Kompany looked beyond resignation, almost beyond despair. His body had let him down again.

This was already the Belgian's fourth injury this term, forcing him in total to miss 21 games, with more to follow after this latest setback.

In the match-day programme, Kompany had spoken of his fortitude in combating these skirmishes with fickle fortune and vulnerable sinew.

"I don't let myself get beaten down by anything," he said. "So I have viewed these injuries as just another challenge that has to be won."

He faces another challenge now.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 17, 2016, with the headline 'BRUISED CITY ADVANCE'. Print Edition | Subscribe