Gelsenkirchen (Germany), Feb 21 (IANS) Ten-man Manchester City scored twice in the last five minutes of regulation time to defeat Schalke 3-2 in the first leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie.
The hosts on Wednesday were leading 2-1 when City’s Nicolas Otamendi was sent off in the 68th minute after picking up his second yellow card of the night in front of 50,000 spectators at Veltins Arena here, reports Efe news.
For Schalke supporters, who have watched their club plunge to 14th place in the Bundesliga over the course of a dismal domestic season, the prospect of defeating the reigning Premier League champions was tantalizing, which made the outcome even more painful.
The visitors attacked from the opening whistle and had a chance to take the lead in the 7th minute as Sergio “Kun” Agüero got his head to a David Silva free kick only for Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann to turn away the shot for a corner. But Agüero was not to be denied.
In the 18th minute, a poor pass by Fährmann allowed Silva to strip the ball from defender Matija Nastasic. The Spaniard then found Kun unmarked in front of the empty net for an easy goal.
Schalke reacted and began to create opportunities. A blast from a distance by Mark Uth in the 25th minute went just wide of the left post.
Ten minutes later, Fährmann easily parried a free kick by Kevin de Bruyne to launch a counterattack that culminated with a Daniel Caligiuri strike that hit Otamendi’s arm.
Chief official Carlos del Cerro Grande spent several minutes consulting with the video assistant referee before signalling a penalty.
Nabil Bentaleb converted for Schalke to level the score at 1-1.
With the first half winding down, City’s Fernandinho fouled Sadio Sane in the area and the referee again pointed to the spot. Bentaleb made no mistake and Schalke led 2-1.
Though City were similarly dominant in the second half, they were still down a goal when Otamendi went off and Schalke seemed to be well-placed to see out the match.
Instead, the supporters watched former Schalke player Leroy Sane equalise for City with a great goal in the 85th minute and Raheem Sterling get the winner in the 90th on a deep ball from visiting goalkeeper Ederson that caught the German defenders off guard.