You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Patrick Roberts goal earns brave Celtic a draw at lacklustre Manchester City

The Guardian logo The Guardian 07-12-2016 Andy Hunter at the Etihad Stadium
Patrick Roberts opens the scoring for Celtic with a fourth minute goal against Manchester City in their Champions League match at the Etihad Stadium © Matt West/BPI/Rex/Shutterstock Patrick Roberts opens the scoring for Celtic with a fourth minute goal against Manchester City in their Champions League match at the Etihad Stadium

Pep Guardiola was a picture of fashionable fury in the technical area, raging at his players, punching the air in frustration and pacing up and down in his trendy sneakers as Manchester City toiled against Celtic. So much for a dead rubber. This may have been an under-strength City side but, judging by their manager’s performance, they fell way short of the standards that Brendan Rodgers has exacted from his players north of the border.

Celtic were well worth their second successive Champions League draw against City, who have now gone seven games without a clean sheet and could have suffered defeat but for Willy Caballero’s late save from substitute Gary Mackay-Steven.

The Scottish champions were slick in possession, pressed relentlessly and cherished a night to remember for teenager Patrick Roberts. The 19-year-old winger, on loan from City, opened the scoring with a fine individual goal before Kelechi Iheanacho equalised in a frenzied start to the game. It underlined Guardiola’s obvious discontent that one of the most impressive young City players on display was flourishing on the right wing for his opponents. City and Celtic knew their place before kick-off, second and bottom of the group respectively, but the game was refreshingly full of life, chaotic defending and opportunity from the first whistle.

The opening was reminiscent of the enthralling 3-3 draw in Glasgow when City arrived boasting a 100% record from their first ten games under Guardiola but departed with defensive concerns that have not been adequately rectified. They have won four of 13 matches since that first encounter and were exposed defensively once again as they struggled to adjust to Guardiola’s switch to a three-man rearguard.

The City manager made nine changes to the team beaten by Chelsea on Saturday, deploying Pablo Maffeo and Leroy Sané as wing-backs and pushing Nolito up in support of Iheanacho. It was a mess. Celtic revelled in the spaces outside City’s central defence as well as the uncertainty throughout the home ranks.

With only three minutes gone Fernando had unwittingly played Moussa Dembélé in on the City goal, forcing Caballero to make an important tackle and save the follow-up from Tom Rogic. Seconds later, with Maffeo clearly bewildered by Guardiola’s instruction to push deeper into the Celtic half as Caballero took a goal kick, the visitors were ahead. It was some moment for young Roberts.

He was making his first start at the Etihad Stadium since signing for City in an £11m deal from Fulham in July 2015. Eligible to face his parent club in Europe, the teenager, who made only three brief appearances for City before joining Celtic on an 18-month contract in January, was clearly intent on reminding his employers of the potential at their disposal and enjoyed a fine game on the right flank.

The England under-20 international punished the hosts when Caballero played a risky clearance to Sané, who slipped as he attempted to keep the ball in play. The England under-20 international took over, cutting inside three weak challenges in the penalty area and sweeping a fine shot into the far corner.

The boisterous travelling hordes celebrated manically and with a smoke bomb that, along with City’s customary jeering of the Champions League anthem, may result in a reprimand from Uefa. Guardiola’s problems rested entirely on the field but his team drew level with their first moment of quality in the game, Iheanacho’s pace punishing the visitors’ high back line. Ilkay Gündogan picked out Nolito with a cross-field ball, the Spaniard slid an inviting pass behind Jozo Simunovic and Iheanacho sprinted away from the defender to beat Craig Gordon with an emphatic finish into the roof of the net.

He should have had a second from Pablo Zabaleta’s inch-perfect ball behind the Celtic defence, the veteran right-back enjoying his night out in central midfield, but side-footed tamely wide.

City slowly came to terms with their manager’s instructions, controlling possession in midfield and offering better protection to Bacary Sagna, Tosin Adarabioyo and Gaël Clichy as a result, but the visitors’ vibrant attacking play could not be contained completely. Roberts and James Forrest were a frequent menace on their respective wings and Dembélé should have restored Celtic’s lead when the latter skipped away from Maffeo and played him through on goal. The former Fulham forward’s shot struck Caballero in the chest and, having taken the rebound around the City keeper, he was left with an open goal from a not-impossible angle. A sliced shot into the side-netting merited the head-in-hands reaction from Dembélé, Rodgers and several team-mates.

Iheanacho had two good chances before the break, a heavy touch enabling Simunovic to clear the first and a cute flick with the instep forcing Gordon into a fine save with the second, while Clichy escaped with a pull on Roberts inside his penalty area.

The second half could not match the frenzy of the first, but Nolito thought he had edged City ahead from Jesús Navas’s low cross only to be flagged offside. Celtic substitutes Leigh Griffiths and Mackay-Steven both went close in the final stages and Rodgers, despite signing off from this season’s Champions League, was the more contented manager.

More from The Guardian

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon