Totti is still the master magician nicking a point for Roma at Man City
The Romans came, saw, and very nearly conquered. Manchester’s Etihad Stadium should have been their Colosseum, though it was more like Plato’s cave; the home team failing to see the light, and like shadows against their opponents. Roma’s imperious leader Francesco Totti waltzed onto his stage like Russell Crowe out of Gladiator, and put the City to the sword.
Before kick-off the midfield match-up of Yaya Toure, Fernandinho, David Silva and Jesus Navas for Manchester City, 20/1 to win the Champions League with Coral, looked certain to get the better of Roma counterparts Seydou Keita, Rajda Nainggolan, Miralem Pjanic, Gervinho, and Alessandro Florenzi. In fact, the matter was academic.
With their world-class, first-choice pairing Daniele De Rossi and Kevin Strootman still injured, their deputies performed admirably. Marshalled by the 38-year-old Totti in a nominal striking berth, the Italians were quick to nullify the obvious threats. They first needed an early reminder from Sergio Aguero, however, as he danced around Maicon, with the ex-Brazil right back bringing him down for a penalty. There was only ever going to be one outcome.
Less than 20 minutes later, the visitors struck back. Totti wrote his name in the history books to become the oldest Champions League scorer, latching onto a through ball from impressive Nainggolan to lift over the onrushing Joe Hart, who slipped in the process.
The best of Rome then lay siege. A point against the English champions on away territory is nothing to be sniffed at. They are now second in Group E, behind Bayern Munich and in a great position to progress to the last 16, priced at evens.
Without a shadow of a doubt, Totti proved the protagonist; the grease to Roma’s armour, his movement, awareness, touch, and eye for a ball pivotal to most of their chances. Gervinho went close through the long-time servant and, not long after half time, a deft back heel found Pjanic, who brought a good save from Hart.
Edin Dzeko looked off the pace, man-marked by Keita, Toure was sloppy, Fernandinho was one of those shadows. In the end, Totti terrorised, entertained and showed to all, he is still the ruler of Rome.