City lucky to win, says Pellegrini

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero (centre) tumbling in the penalty box under a challenge by Borussia Moenchengladbach's Fabian Johnson in the final minute of the match in Germany. The Argentinian then coolly slotted home the penalty kick to win t
Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero (centre) tumbling in the penalty box under a challenge by Borussia Moenchengladbach's Fabian Johnson in the final minute of the match in Germany. The Argentinian then coolly slotted home the penalty kick to win the match and earn praise from his manager.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Chilean manager praises goalkeeper Hart and forward Aguero for keeping team in contest

MONCHENGLADBACH (Germany) • Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini conceded that his side did not deserve their last-minute win at Borussia Moenchengladbach in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Sergio Aguero's penalty secured a comeback 2-1 victory for City's first three points in Group D.

Not even a spot-kick save from Joe Hart in the first-half could prevent the German side from taking a 1-0 lead in the second period through Lars Stindl.

But City defender Nicolas Otamendi equalised when his deflected shot found the back of the net.

"We had a bit of luck to win the game," noted Pellegrini, whose side had lost three of their last four matches - to English Premier League rivals West Ham and Tottenham, and Juventus in their Champions League opener.

"Against Juventus and West Ham, we didn't deserve to lose and maybe today we didn't deserve to win but we did."

City remain third in the group after two matches, level on three points with Spanish side Sevilla and three adrift of Juventus.

However, the victory - only the third in their past 12 Champions League matches - boosted their hopes of reaching the knockout stage for a third straight season under Pellegrini.

City had Hart to thank for keeping them in the game with a series of superb saves.

He denied Raffael from scoring from the spot in the 19th minute before sending team-mate Aguero clear with a deep cross but the City forward fired centimetres wide.

The England No. 1 shot-stopper twice more came to the rescue before the break, charging out of his goal to block Raffael's shot and then denying Patrick Herrmann in the 37th once more.

In the second half, Hart picked up where he left off, palming away a fine curling shot by Raffael.

But he could do nothing when Stindl drilled in with one touch after a superb cutback from Julian Korb in the 54th.

"Joe made three very important saves. He saved a penalty; after that, he also made brilliant saves," said Pellegrini. "The performance of Joe was very important for us."

The Chilean also praised Aguero for calmly dispatching a 90th-minute penalty.

With 26 goals in 31 games, he was the Premier League's top scorer last season but this was only his third goal in 10 games.

"It's not easy to score a penalty in the last minute, we know how important Sergio is for our team but hope the whole team will change (their form)," he added.

The result is a setback for Gladbach after their first defeat under caretaker coach Andre Schubert following two Bundesliga wins since Lucien Favre quit last month.

They face a mountain to climb to get out of the group as they take on Juventus away, then at home in their next two Champions League games.

"The bottom line first of all is how disappointed we are to have not taken anything from this game," said Schubert. "We stayed in the game, defended well but we still lost."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 02, 2015, with the headline 'City lucky to win, says Pellegrini'. Print Edition | Subscribe