#360view: City triumphant but Monaco have more in store

Alam Khan - Reporter 02:19 22/02/2017
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  • Not since Marseille lifted the European Cup 24 years ago has a French team had the game’s best club side. It has been a long, long wait. But that could soon change.

    Following Manchester City’s stunning comeback to take a two-goal advantange to Monte Carlo for the return leg of this absorbing Champions League last-16 encounter, it may not be this season for Monaco, and Paris Saint-Germain may have greater hope.

    Monaco just could not cope with the pressure from the hosts in a finale that was fabulous as well as frenetic.

    But here is a team gifted and destined for glory.

    Much has been said and written about their goal-scoring exploits in this campaign and they way they teased and tormented the Manchester City defence showed the praise was every bit justified. They are lightning on the counter and lethal.

    It was summed up by the dazzling display of Kylian Mbappe who belied his 18 years with brilliance. There have been comparisons with Thierry Henry, but this evoked memories of Wayne Rooney when he first burst onto the scene as a teenager – and dare I say it, the Brazilian striker Ronaldo. It was that calmness and clinical approach.

    Blessed with balance, skill and speed, he was fearsome in the front-line. With experience and faith from his coach, he will only get better.

    That is something Raheem Sterling has clearly benefitted from since Pep Guardiola’s arrival. It has been the making of him as he has taken his game to another level after battles with inconsistency, belief and a price tag that seemed to weigh him down.

    No longer isolated on the wing, as part of a front three and a regular starter, he has been tremendous. With confidence, his class has shone through and, along with summer signing Leroy Sane, City have the S-factor.
    This exciting trio are world-beaters in the making.

    But, in a game where it was all about the attacks, the young guns should not claim all the attention, though, as two ‘veterans’ proved their worth.

    His awful penalty miss aside, Radamel Falcao turned back the clock to the time he was arguably the world’s best striker. The chip for his second goal was simply sublime and a riposte to those who witnessed his failings in Manchester when he was on loan at United.

    Great strikers never lose that ability – as also proved by Sergio Aguero. Booked for a dive when it seemed he should have had a penalty and Monaco keeper Danijel Subasic shown a red card, he did not hide and instead displayed the hunger for which he has attained hero status at the Etihad. With constant questions about his future at City, Aguero revelled in being the main man again.

    What he and City also showed was heart. Twice behind they refused to give up, or give in, to gain a momentous win on a night to remember for the fans. One of the great Champions League games.

    Yet with all the missed opportunities and defensive failings, this tie is not over.

    Monaco will have to gamble in the return, but it won’t be Monte Carlo and bust. On this evidence, they are heading for greater riches in the long term.