Manchester City will have a mountain to climb in next week`s second leg of their Europa League last 16 tie with Dinamo Kiev after suffering a 2-0 defeat in the Ukrainian capital in freezing conditions, according to Goal.com.
Roberto Mancini`s side were caught cold by Andriy Shevchenko in the first half and Oleg Gusev in the second, and despite creating several chances for themselves, the visitors could not grab a vital away goal.
Bosnian striker Edin Dzeko returned to the City starting lineup and was hoping to carry on from his two goals against Aris a fortnight ago that sealed his side`s place in this tie.
David Silva had come closest to prising an opening in the first quarter of the match but his delicate throughball was just too strong for Micah Richards to latch onto in the Kiev penalty area.
After what had been a quiet start to the game, Kiev suddenly took the lead on 25 minutes. Andriy Yarmolenko received a throw in on the left flank and pinged over an inviting cross. With Aleksandar Kolarov on his heels, Shevchenko burst towards the front post and connected with a brave lunge just in front of a sprawling Joe Hart to put his side in front.
City survived a penalty shout on 33 minutes when Roman Eremenko received a pass to feet, rolled Vincent Kompany and collapsed to the turf, but referee Florian Meyer waved play on. Kompany was then fortunate five minutes later that Shevchenko did not accept his invitation to tumble over his outstretched leg when a certain penalty would have been awarded.
Shevchenko`s energy and movement was enlivening the match, and the former Chelsea striker tried his luck with a half-volley that whistled over Joe Hart`s bar.
Kiev were dominating as the match moved towards half-time, and Eremenko released Ayila Yusuf on the right, who cut inside Kolarov but then dragged his shot harmlessly wide of Hart`s goal.
The second half was delayed slightly by City only having 10 men on the field, and when the referee`s patience finally ran out, the match restarted without Mario Balotelli, who emerged from the dressing room 15 seconds after kick-off. It appeared to be a problem with his eyes, but after another discussion with the City medical staff on the touchline, the Italian forward decided he could play on.
Seven minutes into the second half Balotelli received a yellow card after colliding with Yussuf; the City man dragging his studs down the inside of the defender`s leg with no chance of winning the ball. Shortly after, Carlos Tevez was introduced from the bench for Balotelli, bringing an end to a bizarre 10 minutes of action - and inaction - for the City striker.
The swap added some life to City, with Yaya Toure driving in a low shot on 59 minutes that brought a splendid low save from Olexandr Shovkovskiy as the ball headed towards the bottom left corner of the net.
On the hour mark, Andriy Yarmolenko created space in the area for Artem Milevskiy to hit a low shot, but it lacked the pace and direction to test Hart. At the other end, Joleon Lescott brought a good stop from Shovkovskiy when he fired in a well struck shot from 18 yards.
The introduction of Tevez had given City renewed belief in attack, and his foraging run created a half-chance for Pablo Zabaleta, who dragged his shot across the penalty area and just too far behind David Silva for the Spaniard to direct the bobbling ball towards goal.
But with 14 minutes remaining, Kiev struck what could be a decisive goal in the tie. Yarmolenko`s cross into the box could only be headed into the air by Kompany and Gusev reacted quicker than Richards, chesting the ball then smacking an unstoppable volley beyond Hart from 12 yards.
Clearly buoyed by his emphatic finish, Gusev was soon bursting into the box once again, but this time Lescott managed to get in a sliding touch to take the speed off the Ukrainian`s shot and make the save comfortable for Hart.
Another flowing break as the match entered stoppage time presented Gusev with another chance, but Hart did well to block in a one-on-one situation.
Even still, the damage had already been done and City go into Sunday`s FA Cup tie against Reading knowing it may be their best remaining hope of silverware this season.