MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Sep 19 – Lyon stunned Manchester City with a shock 2-1 win in their Champions League group-stage opener on Wednesday. Here are three things we learned from the Etihad Stadium clash:
Guardiola sorely missed
Pep Guardiola was forced to endure City’s miserable display from high in the stands as he served a suspension — and the Spaniard’s absence seemed to unnerve his players.
Guardiola had earned the touchline ban for his sending-off against Liverpool during City’s exit from the competition last season.
The City boss was not allowed any contact with his players or backroom staff inside the Etihad Stadium, leaving assistant coach Mikel Arteta to run the show.
Arteta has established a good reputation as a coach and was linked with the Arsenal job, but he was powerless to prevent City’s ignominious loss.
Guardiola looked increasingly agitated in his seat as City failed to make a dynamic start and his frustration was complete when Maxwel Cornet and Nabil Fekir struck to put underdogs Lyon in complete control before half-time.
Favourites tag weighs on City
After swaggering to the Premier League title in record-breaking style last season, City have been installed as Champions League favourites, but their disjointed display against Lyon suggested that lofty tag might be premature.
Although City won the English title with a 100 points, they have never gone beyond the Champions League semi-finals in eight attempts.
If City are to lift the trophy at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano stadium on June 1 next year, they will have to improve significantly on this strangely shambolic effort.
Mistakes from Fabian Delph, for the first goal, and Fernandinho, for the second, left City in such disarray that they were booed off at the interval.
In 21 Champions League group games over the past seven years before this one, City had lost only three, with their previous defeat at this stage coming against Juventus in September 2015.
United old boys haunt City
As if a losing start to their European campaign wasn’t bad enough, City’s defeat came at the hands of opponents who included two former Manchester United players in their starting line-up.
Dutch forward Memphis Depay endured a miserable 19-month spell at United before joining Lyon in January last year, while Brazilian defender Rafael Da Silva spent seven years at Old Trafford before moving to Lyon in 2015.
Depay scored just seven goals in 53 appearances for United after joining from PSV Eindhoven in June 2015.
“Everybody knows the story of me and Manchester United was not successful,” Depay said this week.
“I can look back and say I didn’t want it to go like that. For sure, the city is still red and we will try to get a good result against the Blues.”
Depay, who hit the post in the second half, was rewarded for his optimism as underdogs Lyon, who finished only third in the French league last season, inflicted City’s third successive home European defeat after knockout-stage losses to Liverpool and Basel last term.