At fulltime of Man City's 2-1 loss to CSKA Moscow at the Etihad, Sergio Aguero, Pablo Zabaleto and Samir Nasri crowded around the match officials to air their many grievances. At that moment, City were bottom of Champions League group E, winless and with just two points through four matches. Their chances of advancing to the knockout stage with Bayern Munich and Roma left to play now slim. Another embarrassingly quick exit from the competition seemingly inevitable. And James Milner was too sad to argue.
The referee played an active role in the match, which is why the City trio decided to focus their anger on him. CSKA's Seydou Doumbia scored the match's first goal in just the second minute, but Yaya Toure equalized in the eighth with a curling free kick into the top corner. Doumbia went on to restore CSKA's lead in the 34th minute and Toure went on to get himself sent off in the 81st minute (he had previously been booked in the 66th minute) for shoving an opponent as if it was an acceptable thing to do.
The loss of Toure reduced City to nine men since Fernandinho who entered the match at the start of the second half for Jesus Navas, was booked twice in a span of eight minutes to get himself sent off in the 70th minute. And shortly before the final whistle, Aguero was shown a yellow card for diving.
On top of that, three CSKA players were also booked during the match, when only two should have been. This saved one of them from being sent off in the 76th minute when the ref showed defender Sergey Ignashevich a yellow card instead of midfielder Pontus Wernbloom, who had been on a yellow since the 28th minute. Had mix-up been avoided, City would've had four whole minutes of 10-v-10 before Toure was sent off.
Though the referee dealt out Man City's punishments, it was the players who lost the game and manager Manuel Pellegrini who could suffer the same fate as predecessor Roberto Mancini for not winning in the Champions League with a very expensive team of reigning Premier League champions. Perhaps realizing all of this is why Milner sat in silence while the others argued.
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