…As Man City go through, in spite of laboured draw with Shakhtar***
Oman on Wednesday held off the Super Sand Eagles of Nigeria to win 6-5 in a closely-fought Group D encounter of the ongoing FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Paraguay.
Oman jumped into a two-goal lead thanks to Eid Al Farsi’s left-footed, curling rocket into the far corner from distance and Jalal Al Sinani’s impressive scissor kick.
Emeka Ogbonna responded to the early letdown by scoring two goals and bringing the Super Sand Eagles level early in the second period.
However Oman just had too much for Nigeria as goals from Mushel Al Araimi, Al Farsi and Sami Al Bulushi had them 5-2 up at the end of the second period.
Ogbonna added another to complete his hat-trick before Adams Taiwo scored with a low drive into the bottom corner to bring the Super Sand Eagles back to within one.
Oman captain Khalid Al Oraimi scored once again to build a two-goal cushion before Godspower Igudia finished off a well-worked team move to score for Nigeria.
However it wasn’t enough and Oman were the ones letting out a sigh of relief and putting three crucial points on the board in Group D.
In another development, subdued Manchester City has reached the Champions League’s last 16 and secured top spot in their group, in spite of an unconvincing 1-1 draw at home to Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.
Ilkay Gundogan had fired City ahead in the 56th minute but Shakhtar earned a potentially valuable point after Israeli substitute Manor Solomon equalised in the 69th.
Atalanta’s 2-0 victory over Dinamo Zagreb in Group C’s other game meant that Pep Guardiola’s side are guaranteed to finish top.
Also read: Tottenham Hotspur name Mourinho as manager
City have 11 points at the summit ahead of their final group game away to Dinamo with Shakhtar in second place on six points. Dinamo have five points and Atalanta four.
Yet while the goal of qualification was secured, it was a far from impressive performance from a team which harbours ambitions of a first Champions League triumph this season.
In recent weeks the crispness and sharpness of City’s pass-and-move play has not been up to its established standard and their defending remains a concern.
At a subdued Etihad, City survived a scare in the 15th minute when their Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson raced out of his area and completely missed the ball as he attempted to clear.
That allowed Tete to break towards the unguarded goal, but Fernandinho did superbly to cover the near post and block his compatriot’s shot.
Moments later, Ederson raced outside his box again but this time his intervention was well-timed and clean, as he slid to clear the danger with Tete threatening once more.
After a mostly uneventful remainder of the first half, City got themselves in front when Gabriel Jesus twisted and turned in the box before poking the ball to Gundogan who slotted home.
Yet Shakhtar drew level with a perfectly-constructed break that ended with Israeli substitute Manor Solomon drilling past Ederson after an excellent pull-back from Dodo.
“The target was to qualify and we have done it,” said Guardiola who was facing Shakhtar for the 13th time in his career.
“They always have quality players. In general, we created chances but the draw was enough in the end. Now we have one competition already done, and now our focus will be the Premier League,” he said. City are third in the domestic league and trail leaders Liverpool by nine points.
For Shakhtar everything is still to play for in their final match, at home to Atalanta on Dec. 11, with all three teams in the group still having a chance to join City in the knockout stage.
The result was particularly impressive for Shakhtar given they were without two key players in Taison and Marlos.
“To get a draw at City is fantastic,” said Shakhtar’s Portuguese coach Luis Castro.
“We have a family atmosphere in our team and we all get on with each other. We’ve nothing won but we’ve nothing lost yet either.”
Additional report from Reuters