Manchester City frustrated but seal qualification with Shakhtar draw

Gundogan puts City in front. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Gundogan puts City in front. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

Manchester City confirmed qualification for the Champions League last 16 despite being held to a 1-1 draw by Shakhtar Donetsk in a drab game at the Etihad.

Ilkay Gundogan’s second half opener was cancelled out by Manor Solomon on a night where Pep Guardiola’s side were far from their blistering best but achieved the required result to progress as group winners.

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As expected, the Premier League champions dominated possession in the early exchanges but it was Shakhtar who almost took the lead following an uncharacteristic error from Ederson in the City goal.

Normally so reliable when stepping up to deal with any danger, the keeper completely misjudged a long ball over the top, allowing winger Tete a free run at goal from the left flank.

However, the Brazilian took far too long to tee up a shooting chance, allowing his compatriot Fernandinho to get back in time to clear for a corner. 

City’s first major opportunity of note came through Rodri but his shot from distance was easy for keeper Andriy Pyatov.

A sweeping move forward for the visitors then opened City up but as the ball landed at the feet of Alan Patrick in a great position following a late run into the box, his wayward shot flew over the bar when he really ought to have done better. 

Nicolas Otamendi almost found the breakthrough for Pep Guardiola’s side with a powerful header from Angelino’s deep cross but his effort was ultimately too close to Pyatov who was able to hold on easily. 

The defender then had a long-range effort that had the Shaktar keeper beaten but also lacked the accuracy to find the target.

Shakhtar Donetsk forward Manor Solomon smashes home the equaliser. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Shakhtar Donetsk forward Manor Solomon smashes home the equaliser. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
The Shakhtar Donetsk players celebrate. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
The Shakhtar Donetsk players celebrate. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Gundogan then had a shot deflected wide as City continued to be frustrated and the sides went in level at the break.

City’s patience was eventually rewarded after half time when Kevin De Bruyne’s pass found Jesus in the box and the Brazilian’s quick feet both drew in and evaded tackles before poking the ball to Gundogan for an easy finish.

It was German midfielder’s third goal of the season, having also scored in the reverse fixture and might have eased some tension amongst the City ranks.

Raheem Sterling and Cancelo both had long range strikes but were unable to double their side’s advantage.

They were soon made to pay as the visitors managed to conjure up an equaliser from a swift counter attack.

Tete and Dodo combined to bring the ball forward before the latter’s cross eventually found its way to the feet of substitute Solomon who hammered home from inside the penalty area.

City almost regained the lead in an instant through a super-sub of their own in David Silva but his goal-bound effort was eventually cleared off the line despite a mix-up between Pyatov and his defender Sergey Krivtsov.

Guardiola’s side continued to create chances but Pyatov was left relatively untroubled by efforts from Rodri, Sterling and Otamendi yet again late on.

While Guardiola knows it wasn’t a vintage performance, the manager will be content that his side achieved the minimum required on the night and can potentially rest players for the trip to Zagreb in the final fixture of the group.

Shakhtar holding on for an unlikely point means the chance to qualify as runners up is in their own hands, provided they beat Atalanta on day six.

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