Ten-man Manchester City were unable to secure their spot in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League with two group games to spare on a frustrating night in Copenhagen.
Pep Guardiola left Erling Haaland on for the match, with Julien Alvarez leading the charge in his place, but a first-half red card for Sergio Gomez ultimately dictated an even performance from the Citizens.
The first half hour of the game was frantic and Man City thought they had taken the lead when Rodi drove a brilliant long-range save into the top corner of the net. However, VAR intervened for the first time on a busy night to rule it out harshly for handball in Riyad Mahrez’s set-up.
Mahrez was also at the center of another VAR flashpoint. City were awarded a penalty for the ball in the Copenhagen box and the Algerian stepped up to take the free-kick. His tame effort was easily saved by Kamil Grabara.
At that point it still looked like it was only a matter of time before Man City opened the scoring, but the game changed after half an hour thanks to another VAR intervention. Sergio Gomez was eventually adjudged to have pulled down Hakan Arnar Haraldsson as the Iceland ace raced through on goal.
From there, the game settled into a predictable and pedestrian pattern, with Copenhagen happy to hold on to the tie and Man City unable to get enough players forward to break them down.
The chances were high, yet Guardiola signaled his comfort with a point by leaving Haaland on the bench despite the game easing to a predictable conclusion.
1. Man City (4-3-3)
GK: Ederson – 6/10 – An uncharacteristically nervy start to the game, but quickly settled down.
RB: Joao Cancelo – 6/10 – Forced to show more discipline than he usually has to and lost a little attacking verve as a result.
CB: Manuel Akanji – 6/10 – Very solid and dependable, although rarely tested.
CB: Aymeric Laporte – 6/10 – Just his usual self really. Again, though, he wasn’t really tested.
LB: Sergio Gomez – 3/10 – Didn’t really have anything to do until he got sent off for a clumsy challenge.
CM: Ilkay Gundogan – 7/10 – Kept things ticking over as he usually does, although unable to inject any energy into the City performance.
CM: Rodri – 7/10 – Very unlucky to not have a stunning goal to his name. Decent performance all round.
CM: Kevin De Bruyne – 7/10 – Nowhere near his best but his okay is a lot better than most players could ever produce.
RW: Riyad Mahrez – 2/10 – Only on the pitch for 32 minutes but in that time managed to get Rodri’s brilliant goal disallowed for his handball and miss a penalty.
ST: Julian Alvarez – 6/10 – Hard not to feel for him a little. It was his big chance to come out of Haaland’s shadow and circumstances conspired against him.
LW: Jack Grealish – 6/10 – Always willing to try things but not able to really make any notable impact.
SUB: Ruben Dias (32′ for Mahrez) – 6/10 – Slotted in nicely after the red card and was comfortable.
SUB: Bernardo Silva (77′ for De Bruyne) – N/A.
SUB: Phil Foden (77′ for Grealish) – N/A.
SUB: Nathan Ake (88′ for Laporte) – N/A.