Digital Football Journalist @ronnabe
Schalke 2-3 Man City: Raheem Sterling scores 90th-minute winner for 10-man visitors
Last Updated: 21/02/19 7:02am
Raheem Sterling's last-minute goal gave 10-man Manchester City the advantage with a stunning 3-2 comeback win at Schalke in the Champions League last-16 first leg.
It looked like business as usual when Sergio Aguero slotted City ahead after 18 minutes, albeit in comical circumstances after a lazy pass from goalkeeper Ralf Fahrmann was cut out by David Silva and squared to the striker.
But Nicolas Otamendi's booking for a handball in his own box - which was only given after referral to VAR - started off a frantic last hour in Gelsenkirchen, with Nabil Bentaleb firing home the resultant penalty before scoring again from the spot before half-time when Fernandinho bundled over Salif Sane.
Otamendi was given his marching orders with 20 minutes to play when he took down Guido Burgstaller but, with City offering little going forward, Leroy Sane's stunning 25-yard free-kick against his boyhood club pulled them level with five minutes left.
There was still time for more drama, though, and Sterling shrugged off Bastian Oczipka's challenge before firing past Fahrmann in the final minute to put City in full control of their last-16 tie ahead of the return leg at the Etihad on March 12.
Schalke: Fahrmann (4), Caliguiri (6), Bruma (6), Sane (8), Nastasic (7), Oczikpa (5), Serdar (6), Bentaleb (8), McKennie (6), Uth (7), Mendyl (5).
Subs: Burgstaller (6), Skrzybski (5), Harit (n/a)
Man City: Ederson (7), Walker (7), Otamendi (4), Fernandinho (5), Laporte (7), David Silva (7), Gundogan (6), De Bruyne (6), Sterling (7), Aguero (6), Bernardo Silva (7).
Subs: Kompany (7), Sane (8), Zinchenko (n/a)
Man of the match: Salif Sane
Schalke's formation suggested they had set out to defend, and they set about soaking up Manchester City's early pressure before conceding the opener.
Daniel Caligiuri cut out a long ball forward and played it back to Fahrmann, but the goalkeeper's 15-yard pass to Salif Sane was so half-hearted, David Silva had time to nip in behind the defender and give Aguero a simple finish into an empty net.
From there, City appeared to enter cruise control, with loose passes creeping in and their sharpness waning, but Schalke's equaliser came as a surprise.
Referee Carlos del Cerro Grande initially gave a corner when a Caligiuri shot cannoned behind off Otamendi, but after a review by the VAR official - and the referee's on-field monitor broken - the City defender was booked for handball and a spot-kick given, which Bentaleb confidently dispatched.
Bentaleb was given the chance to double his tally after Fernandinho inexplicably bundled Salif Sane over in the area on the stroke of half-time, and his second penalty of the night was fired equally confidently beyond Ederson.
City re-emerged with renewed vigour after half-time but with Schalke desperate to hold what they had, they found routes through difficult to carve out.
Their hopes of a comeback were further dashed when Otamendi needlessly clattered into substitute Burgstaller and was dismissed with 22 minutes to go.
But fellow replacement Leroy Sane, who played 57 times for Schalke before moving to the Etihad in 2016, gave them the lifeline they needed when he stepped up to curl a wonderful free-kick into the far corner with five minutes to go.
City had barely finished celebrating that goal before they found themselves in front, as Sterling bore down on goal and with Fahrmann failing to cover his far post, slotted the ball beyond him to give Pep Guardiola's side an unlikely victory.
- Manchester City have come from at least one goal behind at half-time in a Champions League away game for the first time since December 2015 (winning 4-2 v Borussia Monchengladbach).
- Raheem Sterling's goal was Manchester City's first 90th minute winner in the Champions League since Kevin De Bruyne against Sevilla in October 2015.
- Manchester City are unbeaten in their last eight Champions League games against German opponents (W7 D1), since a 0-1 defeat to Bayern Munich in September 2014.
- Schalke have seen their nine game unbeaten home run in Europe ended by Manchester City (W6 D3 previously), with their last loss before tonight at home coming in February 2016 against Shakhtar Donetsk.
- Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero has scored 10 goals in his last seven appearances in all competitions, and is the top goalscorer in the top five European leagues in 2019 (11).
- Since the start of last season, only Cristiano Ronaldo (8) has scored more away goals in the Champions League than Manchester City's Sergio Aguero (7).
- Leroy Sané has been directly involved in eight goals in his last seven appearances in all competitions for Manchester City (three goals, five assists).
- Nabil Bentaleb has converted each of his 14 penalties in all competitions for Schalke.
- Nicolas Otamendi received his first red card for Manchester City in what was his 161st appearance for the club.
Man of the match - Nabil Bentaleb
In addition to his two goals, Bentaleb was also Schalke's most impressive performer in midfield, completing more passes (42) than any other player on his team to get them going forward while also making as many interceptions (two) as anyone else for Schalke.
Manchester City have the little matter of the Carabao Cup final to contend with, live on Sky Sports Football (from 3.30pm) and Sky Sports Main Event (from 4pm) this Sunday.
Schalke travel to 11th-placed Mainz on Saturday, looking to move up the Bundesliga, where they currently sit fifth bottom.