SINSHEIM, Germany (Reuters) – Manchester City overcame a first-minute setback to relaunch their Champions League campaign with a 2-1 victory at Hoffenheim, clinched by a late David Silva winner, on Tuesday.
The Premier League champions and current leaders, urgently needing a win after their opening week Group F defeat at home by Olympique Lyonnais, were rocked by an Ishak Belfodil goal after just 44 seconds.
Sergio Aguero’s equaliser seven minutes later seemed to have set them back on course as they dominated the opening half but the Bundesliga side, bold and enterprising, held on until Silva cashed in on a late defensive error.
Hoffenheim’s home debut in the Champions League group stages started perfectly for the high-flying ‘village club’ who have come so far so quickly in the Bundesliga, with Algerian Belfodil latching on to a neat through ball from Kerem Demirbay to slot home.
The quickest goal City had ever conceded in the competition was another shock to their system after their loss to Lyon, their only defeat of the season in any competition so far.
Normal service was quickly resumed, though, when a fine ball from Silva found the outstanding Leroy Sane, who picked out Aguero to bundle home his eighth goal in 10 matches this season.
Raheem Sterling, after a lightning end-to-end break, and Aguero went close to putting City ahead as they piled on the pressure.
Yet after the break, 31-year-old Julian Nagelsmann’s side, reflecting the enterprise of the youngest manager in Champions League history, held on staunchly as City ramped up their attacks.
It seemed as if Guardiola’s men would be deprived of the win when Sane was clearly brought down in the penalty area in the second half when rounding goalkeeper Oliver Baumann but no penalty was awarded.
Yet they kept their patience and Silva’s quick thinking, robbing central defender Stefan Posch in the box and shooting home a sharp winner took them on to three points in the group.
Hoffenheim were left on one point with Lyon, on three points, hosting Shakhtar Donetsk later on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Ian Chadband; Editing by Toby Davis)