PARIS, March 17 – Big-spending English giants Manchester City crashed out of the last 16 of the Europa League to Dynamo Kiev on Thursday, while there was also heartbreak for Paris Saint Germain at the hands of Benfica.
Roberto Mancini’s City side, bank-rolled from Abu Dhabi by Sheikh Mansour’s £500 million investment, beat the Ukrainian club 1-0 at home but bowed out 2-1 on aggregate.
The home side were cut to 10 men in the 37th minute after Italian Mario Balotelli was shown a straight red for a dreadful, high one-footed lunge at Goran Popov in a bad-tempered clash that also saw seven yellow cards brandished.
But Man City rebounded immediately after Balotelli’s rash challenge through Aleksandar Kolarov, the Serb scoring from an indirect free-kick through a congested area.
Chasing the game with just 10 men proved too much for City, although Carlos Tevez missed a golden opportunity four minutes into injury time to push the game into extra-time when he failed to latch on to a Yaya Toure free-kick.
Mancini acknowledged it was a "disappointing result".
"We deserved another goal tonight. We played a fantastic game with only 10 players. I didn’t see the (Mario Balotelli) incident from the bench so I can’t comment," the Italian told BBC.
"But we would have won the game with 11 players on the pitch."
City defender Vincent Kompany added: "As soon as we went down to 10 men it became a very difficult game. We gave up a lot of energy in this game. I thought we played well."
PSG went out 3-2 to Portugual’s Benfica after the two teams finished 1-1 on the night.
Nicolas Gaitan bagged that all-important away goal for the Lisbon-based club in the 27th minute, an ambitious left-footed shot swerving past the static Apoula Edel in goal.
PSG responded eight minutes later, Mathieu Bodmer sending in a screamer of a right-foot volley into the corner of the net, but the Portuguese side held out.
In Moscow, Spartak wrapped up a comprehensive 4-0 aggregate victory over toothless Ajax, the Russians winning 3-0 on the night courtesy of goals from Dmitri Kombarov, and Brazilian duo Welliton and Alex.
There was no such luck for Spartak’s domestic rivals Zenit St-Petersburg, whose 2-0 defeat of Dutch side FC Twente was not enough to overhaul a first-leg 3-0 deficit.
Later Thursday Liverpool try to overturn a 1-0 first leg defeat when they host Sporting Braga. In Glasgow, Rangers host PSV Eindhoven with the tie finely balanced after the first leg ended in a goalless draw.