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UEFA Champions League Group D wrap: Ajax stun winless City

Manchester City’s Champions League hopes suffered a huge blow with a 3-1 loss to Ajax on Wednesday, as Borussia Dortmund beat Real Madrid.

Visitors City took their time to grow into the Group D tie at the Amsterdam Arena, but made no mistake with their first opportunity, Samir Nasri slotting home.

However, Siem de Jong netted a superb equaliser on the stroke of half-time to send the teams in level at the break.

After a cautious start to the second 45 minutes, the Dutch hosts took the lead through Niklas Moisander, before Christian Eriksen’s deflected shot made it 3-1.

The hosts made the brighter start, keeping the ball with ease and working the first chance of the game just before the ten-minute mark, Eriksen firing narrowly wide of Joe Hart’s post.

The dangerous Eriksen then flattened Yaya Toure with a hefty challenge, before the Dane made his mark in a different way, once more going close with a long-range effort.

However, somewhat against the run of play, it was Mancini’s men who took the lead in the 23rd minute.

Micah Richards fed Milner with a beautifully weighted ball, the midfielder passing it on to Nasri, who opened his body to curl a shot past Kenneth Vermeer.

Sergio Aguero then twice found himself with space in the box, and may well have doubled the lead if it was not for two last-ditch tackles.

Five minutes later, Vermeer made a fine save from Micah Richards.

With half-time approaching City were made to pay for failing to press their advantage.

Ricardo van Rhijn delivered with a low cross from the right, picking out De Jong’s run and allowing the midfielder to smash a first-time effort into the corner, giving Hart absolutely no chance and sending the teams into the break on level terms.

The visitors almost made the perfect start to the second period. Aguero broke into the Ajax box and, as Vermeer rushed out, tried to find a team-mate in the area but saw his chipped cross cleared.

City were made to pay again on 57 minutes, when Eriksen whipped in a fantastic corner from the right-hand side, Moisander then beating Joleon Lescott in the air to nod past a helpless Hart.

Things went from bad to worse for Mancini, who replaced Lescott with Aleksandar Kolarov and switched to a back three.

The change in formation proved fruitless, as man of the match Eriksen embarked on a twisting run before unleashing a left-footed effort, the ball striking Gael Clichy on its way into the goal – once again leaving Hart helpless.

Tobia Sana then had a golden opportunity to put his side further ahead, only for Hart to rush off his line and smother the one-on-one.

Edin Dzeko squandered two opportunities to give the visitors a lifeline – the Bosnian hesitating on both occasions, allowing Vermeer to make the blocks.

For the final 15 minutes Mancini’s side seemed to be playing with just two men at the back and two in midfield, with strikers Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez both thrown into the fray.

Nasri had a weak penalty appeal turned down and Aguero shot narrowly over, but ultimately there was no breakthrough and Ajax held firm to secure their first win of the tournament.

Also on Wednesday, Borussia Dortmund earned a valuable 2-1 win at home to Real Madrid, courtesy of goals from Robert Lewandowski and Marcel Schmelzer, either side of Cristiano Ronaldo’s equaliser.

The results leave Dortmund top of Group D on seven points, one point ahead of second-placed Real.

Ajax move onto three points in third spot, leaving City bottom with just one point to their name.

Wed 24 October, 2012
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