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De Jong double leaves City on the brink

Tuesday 6 November 2012 22.55 CET
Siem de Jong celebrates after putting Ajax two ahead

Manchester City FC fought back from two goals down to earn a draw with AFC Ajax yet they still stand on the brink of an early UEFA Champions League exit for the second year running.

Ajax took control with two Siem de Jong goals inside the first 17 minutes but City gained a lifeline through Yaya Touré's 22nd-minute strike and Sergio Agüero secured them a point with 16 minutes remaining.

It was an outcome that did neither team too much good, with Ajax still three points behind second-placed Real Madrid CF and City a further two points adrift with two draws and two defeats.

Although Pablo Zabaleta had an early chance which he fired over the crossbar, it was Ajax who made the breakthrough from their first corner. It was one that Matija Nastasić conceded needlessly and a goal that City's defence will not enjoy reviewing. When Niklas Moisander got a scruffy touch to Christian Eriksen's set piece, the ball ran beyond the near post and, as nobody in a light blue shirt reacted, De Jong squeezed it over Joe Hart from a tight angle.

Another Eriksen corner seven minutes later brought De Jong's second goal and again City did not help themselves as Touré left the Ajax captain free to arrow in a header at the near post.

However, City soon had hope as Touré halved the deficit with an acrobatic volley. Samir Nasri played over a cross which bounced off an Ajax head towards the back post, where Touré collected it on his chest and in a flash sent the ball flying past Kenneth Vermeer. Yet Frank de Boer's visitors kept their composure, looking accomplished as they played their neat one-twos and denied City possession.

The home side stepped up a gear in the second half with Mario Balotelli replacing Javi García to join Agüero and Carlos Tévez up front. Agüero soon had the ball in the net but was offside. The Argentinian then seemed poised to round Vermeer only to lose his footing.

City's pressure appeared to be subsiding as Hart twice kept out shots from De Jong. However, Roberto Mancini's team got their equaliser as Balotelli flicked on a forward ball and Agüero got there ahead of Toby Alderweireld and drove low into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

Cue a frantic finish in which Agüero saw a volley ruled offside yet once again for City in this competition, it was just not to be.

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