Nasri – We’re a big team now


Published: Thursday 11th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Samir Nasri hopes his match-winning display for Manchester City in Rome has helped announce the club’s arrival on the big stage.

Nasri struck a stunning opening goal as City overcame adversity to reach the Champions League knockout stages with a brilliant 2-0 win over Roma in the Stadio Olimpico.

Progress to the last 16 had seemed unlikely after a dismal home loss to CSKA Moscow a month ago but the dramatic turnaround since has suggested City can now make their mark among Europe’s elite.

Nasri was delighted to have played his part in the Italian capital, first by smashing home a long-range shot off a post on the hour and then teeing up a second goal for Pablo Zabaleta.

The 27-year-old said: “Last year I scored a goal in the Capital One Cup final that gave us a trophy, I scored in the last game against West Ham for the title as well – but this one was really important for us to qualify, for our ambition in Europe and to show the world that we are a big team.

“It was a great strike. I saw it back in the dressing room and I should try it more often.”

City collected only two points from their opening four Group E fixtures and qualification only really became a possibility after staging a dramatic late fightback to beat Bayern Munich in their penultimate game.

Even then the odds remained against them as they went into the final match level on points with both Roma and CSKA.

They needed a positive result and a favour from Bayern against CSKA. The odds also lengthened as they went into the game at an intimidating Olimpico without key players Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and David Siva in their starting line-up.

Nasri said: “We like to do it the hard way. We always believe in our quality and in the last few weeks we have been back to our best.

“We showed we are a team. When Kompany, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero are not there – I think for any other team it would be really difficult but we showed we could do it.”

Those sentiments were echoed by goalkeeper Joe Hart, who played his part with another outstanding performance.

Hart said: “We can’t get away from that fact, they are four players who would get into most teams in the world.

“But we have always shown we are a strong squad and that’s how you win things and we have won things recently by doing that. We look forward to carrying on.”

City were second best in the early stages as Roma, and particularly former Arsenal forward Gervinho, tore into them.

But the Barclays Premier League champions weathered the storm and made their breakthrough with Nasri’s crowd-silencing strike.

Roma responded and Hart made a fine save to tip a Kostas Manolas header onto the post before Martin Demichelis cleared off the line from Mattia Destro.

Again City came through and Zabaleta wrapped up a superb night’s work as he rushed into the area to fire home from Nasri’s lay-off four minutes from time.

Hart agreed that the result did suggest City, in their fourth season of Champions League football, could finally be coming of age in the competition.

The England number one, who is poised to sign a new contract at the Etihad Stadium, said: “Yes, it was about time we did. We started the campaign poorly but we have come good at the right time when we needed to and we have won the game.

“But we need to build on it now. We got ourselves all the way through last time and we struggled against Barcelona, so we have to look to be positive and see what we can do.”

Barcelona are again one of the sides City, as group runners-up, could face in the next round.

Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Monaco and Porto are the other potential opponents they could be handed in next Monday’s draw.

Hart, 27, said: “The draw is going to take care of itself. It is what it is and we are just happy we are in it.

“We are confident we can do well against anyone but it is Leicester now and we have to turn our eyes to that. That’s our next big game.”

Published: Thursday 11th December 2014 by The News Editor

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