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Manuel Pellegrini upbeat, but Manchester City’s Champions League dreams fading

Russia Soccer Champions League

Manchester City’s head coach Manuel Pellegrini takes a seat on the bench before the Champions League Group E soccer match between CSKA Moscow and Manchester City at Arena Khimki stadium in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday Oct. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)


Following Manchester City’s dramatic collapse against CSKA Moscow in Russia on Tuesday, the Citizens are starring elimination from the UEFA Champions League at the group stage for the third time in four years.

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Man City led CSKA 2-0 at half time in Moscow, thanks to goals from Sergio Aguero and James Milner, but the Russian champions scored twice in the final 25 minutes give the Citizens’ chances of advancing to the UCL knockout round a huge blow.

Asked afterwards if City’s failure to beat CSKA meant the end of their UCL for yet another season, Pellegrini had the following to say.

“We have nine points left to play for,” Pellegrini said. “After we’ve played for those nine points we’ll see how many we have. Of course we can still qualify. Football is 95 minutes it’s not just the first half. We played very well in the first half, we scored two goals and had many more clear chances to score. CSKA are a good team and if you give them space, they can be very dangerous.”

City were their own worst enemies as they took their foot of the gas in the empty Khimki Arena -- no fans were present following UEFA sanctions against CSKA for various racist and violent incidents -- and paid the ultimate price as substitute Seydou Doumbia scored the first and then won a dubious penalty kick which Bebras Natcho converted five minutes from time to make it 2-2.

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The Citizens are still without a win in Group E play and must now win all three of their remaining games to give themselves a good chance of advancing to the last 16. Despite Pellegrini’s optimism, winning away against Roma, plus home games against CSKA and Bayern Munich seems unlikely given their stuttering start to their UCL campaign this season.

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With City’s owners clear that success in Europe was once again a big priority, plus Pellegrini’s appointment last season mainly due to his expertise in European competitions in the past, the Premier League champions are on the verge of exiting the UCL in the group stages once again.

That’s simply not good enough for the level of talent they possess.

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