by Darren Walsh

Frank De Boer says his aim for Ajax is to make triangles with their passing movements.  Surely any three-man passing move results in a triangular shape?

Roberto Mancini is interviewed before the game, and is a little calmer than his press conference yesterday, but you get the feeling that he’s fighting to keep a lid on his thoughts.

Line-up of the five officials in the tunnel; the two men who stand beside the goalposts look like slightly nervous riot police with their batons and neon gear.  Probably the last time we’ll see them on camera too.

I don’t like all the talk of this being such a tough group; yeah they’re all champions but Ajax are fifth in the Eredivisie at the moment, and City have the squad to beat anyone.

Possible penalty there for Yaya Toure, fell almost in slow motion though, the ref wasn’t convinced.

I’ve never seen a full back get into scoring positions more than Pablo Zabaleta; has a shot there under pressure while leaning back and fires over the bar.

Despite the early pressure, City are 0-1 down.  No one reacts to the second ball from a corner except Siem De Jong.  Nice finish from a tough angle.

Three times now that Andy Townsend has said that he’s seen City play a lot, and obviously wants a pat on the back for doing his research.  Although if he’s only watched one game in his spare time that’s probably one more than Alan Shearer has ever managed.

City’s marking at corners really has gone to the dogs; De Jong makes a near post run and bullets it past Hart.  Townsend seems to blame the zonal marking scheme, as is the usual English football way, but there’s nothing wrong with the system, it’s how the players perform it that is the problem.

With a 0-2 deficit, the losing team always needs a quick reply to start a comeback, preferably in the first half.  City have got one within five minutes of the second Ajax goal.  Great skill by Toure to take the ball on his chest and then lash in a volley.  The Dutch need to keep the ball and take the sting out of the game too.  Could be plenty more strikes too with this general level of defending.

Mancini is “going through the mill a bit.”  Wonderful understatement from Clive Tyldsley there, as we see a shot of Roberto shouting and gesticulating furiously.

Andy is continuing his diatribe against zonal marking.  “Who’s picking up the man?” he asks, completely failing to understand how it works.

Adrian Chiles sure likes the phrase “It’s the hope that kills you.”  With West Brom fifth in the table, that kind of hope might do exactly that to him.

The boys at halftime seem perplexed that the fans are so quiet and that the players aren’t going hell for leather; they seem to be ignoring the fact that most of them realise that they aren’t finishing in the top two if this group, no matter what happens tonight.

Mario Balotelli is on; he’ll either wallop in a 30 yarder or get himself sent off.

Bit more energy from City to start the second half.  A lot more rough tackling from Ajax too, which includes Aguero being scythed down but a throw-in being given.

Every time Vincent Kompany has the ball, I can hear someone shout “COME ON VINNY!!”  What type of magic the fan expects from a centre back holding the ball in his own half is unknown.

Is Yaya Toure really a better option than Tevez or Aguero to be taking a direct free kick?

Ajax can’t hold on the ball right now, City are finally playing with the intensity of a Premier League game.

Aguero rounds the keeper and should be able to slide a ball across for Balotelli to tap in, but he slips, and not for the first time tonight.

I think Ajax may have weathered the storm, they have more possession now and are creating a few chances.

Ha, should have known that would be the kiss of death for Ajax; nice ball through for Aguero to sweep into the far corner, sets up the last 15 minutes nicely.

Great save from Vermeer, keeping out a Balotelli header.

Oh, big decision against City.  Kolorov is given offside before he crosses for Aguero to prod in.  Doesn’t look like a right call.

Aguero gets away with a high challenge, somehow given as a City free kick.

And from Hart’s kick, Balotelli gets pulled back in the penalty are as he tries to control the ball.  The whistle goes…..but it’s for full time.  Outrage follows from the home team, including Mancini running on to the pitch to complain about that and the earlier offside decision.  I think they should just be as frustrated with themselves; haven’t performed all campaign.  At least it’s still mathematically possible to qualify; Madrid and Dortmund have drawn.

Possible comparison with the Chelsea-Barcelona match a few years back?  A rich English team not getting decisions; somewhere Michel Platini is cackling his head off.

There’s talk that Mancini was unhappy with a cameraman getting in the way of the linesman for that last bit of action.  I don’t think either he or the one behind the goal could have made that call though; only the ref was on the right side to see the pulling of Balotelli’s jersey from the back.

Short interview with Mancini; he wears the serene look of a man who’s gone quite mad.  He is then asked if it was the defending or the ref who cost City the game; if I’m Gabriel Clarke I fear for the loss of my microphone-holding arm with a question like that.

Only two teams have ever qualified from the group stages with two points after four games; if City are to become the third, they have to win both their games and hope for other results to go their way.  They play Real Madrid at the Etihad next; best of luck with that chaps.