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Tuesday, Nov 4, 2014

Sports

Football: Buoyant Man City seek CSKA springboard

AFP | Tuesday, Nov 4, 2014

Manchester City's Chilean manager Manuel Pellegrini (L) speaks with Manchester City's Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho before he enters the pitch.

LONDON - With confidence restored by victory over Manchester United, Manchester City will attempt to rescue their Champions League campaign when they tackle CSKA Moscow at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

Sunday's 1-0 defeat of United in the derby saw City snap a run of three games without victory and took them to within six points of Premier League leaders Chelsea, but in Europe their fate is in the balance.

Having picked up only two points from their first three Group E matches, City no longer have any margin for error and will be left on the brink of a third group-stage exit in four years if they fail to win on Wednesday.

Manuel Pellegrini's side squandered a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 at CSKA two weeks ago and with a home game against Bayern Munich and a trip to Roma to follow, the English champions cannot afford to drop points again.

City left-back Gael Clichy, who was called into the team to face United after Aleksandar Kolarov was injured in the warm-up, has urged his team-mates not to get carried away by their derby triumph.

"It's a totally different competition, so it's not because we've won (against United) that we're going to play well and win against Moscow," he told the City website.

"Hopefully we can start winning, because we haven't won a game yet in this competition. We still have a chance to go through and that's the main objective for the club.

"A team like us should go through and do well in Europe. It starts on Wednesday and that will be a big game as well."

City were aggrieved that some 350 home fans managed to obtain sponsors' tickets to watch the teams' last meeting after CSKA were ordered to play three home matches behind closed doors as a punishment for a series of offences including racist chanting.

UEFA subsequently reduced their punishment to playing two home matches without supporters, although CSKA are still banned from selling tickets to their fans for the club's remaining two away games.

Dzagoev, Wernbloom return

City will be without Spanish playmaker David Silva due to a knee injury, but veteran midfielder Frank Lampard has revealed that he is "not far off" a return after missing four games with a thigh problem.

Meanwhile, Pellegrini revealed after the derby that French centre-back Eliaquim Mangala should be fit to face CSKA despite sitting out Sunday's match due to injury.

In contrast to City, CSKA go into the game on the back of a disappointing domestic result, having lost 1-0 at home to Russian Premier League leaders Zenit St Petersburg at the weekend.

Zenit's victory, secured by a goal from former City man Javi Garcia, left them seven points clear of reigning champions CSKA after 12 matches.

"It's very disappointing, but it's already in the past. Now we need to forget it to prepare for the match with Manchester City," said CSKA coach Leonid Slutsky, whose club have never won a game in England.

"In our previous meeting my team showed character as we managed to perform a comeback to chalk up our first point this season. Hopefully, we can achieve a positive result away in Manchester as well." Russia striker Kirill Panchenko will miss out for CSKA due to a knee injury and Swedish midfielder Rasmus Elm remains sidelined by a stomach problem, but Brazilian forward Vitinho could return after ankle trouble.

Meanwhile, Alan Dzagoev and Pontus Wernbloom are both in contention to play after completing three-match suspensions for being sent off against Czech side Viktoria Plzen in last season's group phase.

In a positive omen for City, they won 5-2 at home to CSKA when Slutsky's side last visited the Etihad on November 5 last year - a year to the day before Wednesday's match.

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