Manchester City host Real Madrid on Tuesday in their first ever Champions League semi-final. It is the biggest match in the club’s relatively brief Champions League archives, but where does it fit in their 122-year history?
Here are some of the high-stakes encounters from City’s history.
Manchester City 2 Gornik Zabrze 1 – European Cup Winners’ Cup final, April 29, 1970
Only a minority of City fans will remember, but should City make it to Milan this season it will not be their first cup final in Europe. That came 46 years ago when they beat Polish side Gornik Zabrze 2-1 in Vienna, courtesy of goals from Neil Young and Francis Lee. This remains City’s only European trophy, and came in their second ever continental campaign – which they qualified for by winning the FA Cup in 1969. It was the last trophy City won under famed manager Joe Mercer.
Newcastle 3 Manchester City 4 – Division One, May 11, 1968
That QPR match in 2012 was not the first time City needed to win on the final day of the season to take England’s top-flight title. Their last crown 44 years earlier had also been decided at the last and with plenty of drama too as Newcastle twice equalised before Young and then Lee scored to pull City clear, although John McNamee’s goal ensured a nervy finish.
Manchester City v QPR – Premier League, May 13, 2012
City’s task seemed straightforward – beat relegation-threatened QPR and the title was theirs for the first time in 44 years. But although the club had undergone a transformation since Sheikh Mansour’s 2008 takeover, clearly not all traces of ‘Cityitis’ had been eradicated. Which is how Roberto Mancini’s side found themselves trailing 2-1 at home to 10 men as the 90 minutes were up. But Edin Dzeko’s header early in stoppage time gave City hope and Sergio Aguero then authored arguably the greatest ending to any league season as he struck a title-winning goal with the clock reading 93 minutes and 20 seconds. Agueroooo!
Manchester City 1 Stoke 0 – FA Cup final, May 14, 2011
Three years after the Abu Dhabi takeover, City ended a 35-year wait for a major trophy – the longest in club history – when they edged out Stoke 1-0 at Wembley to lift the FA Cup. Yaya Toure’s 74th-minute goal settled an often nervy affair and signalled that this new-look City had arrived as a real force to be reckoned with.
Manchester City 2 Gillingham 2 (3-1 on pens) – Second Division play-off final, May 30, 1999
How far City have come since this day. But were it not for the heroics of Paul Dickov, Nicky Weaver and the rest of Joe Royle’s side, would any of it have been possible? Following two relegations in three years, City found themselves in the third tier but made it to Wembley with a chance of going straight back up. Those hopes appeared shattered after Gillingham scored twice in the last 10 minutes, but Kevin Horlock pulled a goal back on 90 minutes before Dickov levelled deep into stoppage time. Weaver then starred in the penalty shoot-out that followed, and City took a huge step on the long road back.
Manchester City 2 Liverpool 2 – Premiership, May 5, 1996
Not every high-stakes encounter on this list has gone City’s way, and no fan who was around to see it will forget this example of the club’s famed knack for self-destruction. City needed a win on the final day of the season to avoid relegation, but fell behind to an own goal from Steve Lomas and one from Reds striker Ian Rush. Uwe Rosler and Kit Symons dramatically hauled them level, but by then City mistakenly believed a draw was enough and spent the final minutes holding the ball up by the corner flag. The already-substituted Niall Quinn realised the error and sprinted down the touchline to implore his team-mates to attack, but it was too late and City went down.