Wednesday, December 10, 2014 10:47 pm
Manchester City and Schalke 04 filled the last two spots on offer for the last 16 of the Champions League as both won their final group games on Wednesday.
City beat Roma 2-0 in the Italian capital at a packed Stadio Olimpico, in Group E, with Samir Nasri scoring one and creating the other on his 50th appearance in the Champions League.
And in Group G, Schalke progressed thanks to a 1-0 win over Maribor in Slovenia.
The draw for the last 16 is on Monday.
City, requiring at least a score-draw to go through to the knock-out phase, were dominated for large periods of the match but Nasri turned the game around on the hour when he fired an unstoppable shot past Morgan De Sanctis from 25 metres.
The goal left Roma requiring two goals to qualify for the knock-out phase, but after the Serie A side spurned a series of late chances, City rubbed salt into their wounds in the 86th minute when Zabaleta swept Nasri’s low delivery past De Sanctis for his first Champions League goal.
City’s win left Manuel Pellegrini’s men second in Group E behind already-qualified Bayern Munich, with Roma finishing third to drop into the Europa League.
Needing just a win to go through, Roma made their victory intentions clear from the start, with Gervinho, Jose Holebas and then Radja Nainggolan all being given space deep on the left to create half-chances that tested City’s resolve in the opening minutes.
It was a sluggish start for City, and the English champions went on to create only a few half-chances as the half wore on.
An Edin Dzeko header from a cross on the left was high and wide but on 16 minutes a probing run by Nasri allowed Jesus Navas to fire a delivery from the right that went begging.
Roma countered and Nainggolan sent Adem Ljajic through but the Serbian’s drive from distance was off target.
– Powerful poke –
City’s best chance of the half fell to James Milner after 20 minutes but De Sanctis was down low quickly to block the midfielder’s shot from the left.
Again, Roma went on the counter but after a 40-metre run Gervinho’s low, angled drive was tipped to safety by Joe Hart at his far post.
An alert Hart then easily collected a powerful poke by Maicon after the Brazilian had muscled his way through the City midfield.
Moments later, a defence-splitting pass from Navas sent Milner through only for De Sanctis to come out quickly to close down the angle.