Manchester City ensured a fourth place finish in the English Premier League via a draw with Swansea City to book their place in Europe’s top club competition next season.
Kelechi Iheanacho opened the scoring for Manchester City with a simple tap in early in the first half while Andre Ayew’s deflected free kick restored parity just before halftime. The battle for the final Champions league spot did not go down the wire as scheduled, though. The match between Manchester United and Bournemouth was officially abandoned due to a bomb scare at Old Trafford.
Reported by the ABC News – The head of a British security company has taken responsibility for a fake bomb that led to the match being abandoned on Sunday. The device was left behind after security training exercise, the fake bomb was labelled training device, leaving tens of thousands of fans ordered out of stadium just before kick-off
Manchester City only needed to avoid defeat at Swansea to guarantee a fourth place finish. United, on the other hand, needed to win against Bournemouth and hope that City lose to the Swans if they are to have any chance of pipping City to fourth. This is Manuel Pellegrini’s last match in charge of the Citizens, who looked to ascertain incoming manager Pep Guardiola would be in Champions League for his first season in charge. Swansea, meanwhile, recently had current manager Francesco Guidolin put pen to ink a new 2-year contract that will keep him in charge of Swansea until the end of the 2017-2018 season.
Manchester United Versus Bournemouth Abandoned Amid Bomb Scare
Kickoff was delayed at Old Trafford following evacuation of the Stretford End at the stands. At the time, the cause of the incident was not immediately known. A few minutes before scheduled kickoff time 1500 GMT, half of the stadium has been emptied as news of a suspect package being found in the stands emerges.
Kick-off is delayed at Old Trafford after a suspect package was found in the North West Quadrant. Police are inspecting, more to follow.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) May 15, 2016
Finally, at 15 minutes after the supposed kick off time, the Manchester United versus Bournemouth match has been officially abandoned following police advice. Upon hearing news of a delay in the match at Old Trafford, there was some debate on whether the Swansea versus Manchester City match would also be moved back. This is due to the crucial situation revolving around City’s battle for fourth place with United that will determine final league positions, and subsequently decide who will play in the Champions League and in the Europa League, respectively. However the match went ahead as scheduled.
Citizens Break on the Counter while Swans Play Possession
The match was pulsating right from the get-go. Swansea’s possession based game was evident save the closing stages of the match, while Manchester City always looked dangerous on the break, and eventually killed off the game via controlling possession in the last twenty minutes.
City’s bright start breaks Swansea and the Citizens find themselves a goal up. Kevin de Bruyne’s work down the left hand side paid dividends as his low cross finds Sergio Aguero and while unmarked, can only manage to shoot straight at the keeper. However, the rebound falls kindly for Iheanacho who side foots the ball for a simple tap-in. They were almost two goals up afterwards. Sergio Aguero was released by a brilliant through ball on the right, but shooting from a tight angle, he could only hit the side netting.
— Manchester City FC (@MCFC) May 15, 2016
Swansea had a decent bit of possession but could do little with it. They were restricted to the middle of the park and cannot break into the final third. However, Swansea almost found themselves level. Angel Rangel loops a brilliant ball to Jefferson Montero who trickled the ball over and across the goal line, but the goal was disallowed as he was adjudged to have fouled Bacary Sagna in the process.
Almost half an hour in, Swansea were almost made to pay with their inability to find a breakthrough but Nordfeldt makes a fine interception. Fernandinho crosses low again and finds Sergio Aguero who has made a good run, but his shot is saved via the left leg of the Swansea keeper. Moments later, Andre Ayew somehow finds a way to unleash a powerful strike from outside the area but Nicolas Otamendi was there to block the shot. From a Swansea corner a Manchester City counterattack ensues. De Bruyne makes a brilliant crosscourt pass to Jesus Navas who finds himself in an unfamiliar left hand side position. He drives ahead to go one on one against the defender, cuts inside to his favored right foot and tries to curl one in, but the shot sails over the bar.
Swansea then levelled at halftime and quite deservedly so. After scoring the first goal, City never looked determined enough to score a second. Nicolas Otamendi gets booked for a cynical foul on Leon Britton which results in a freekick about 30 yards right in the centre. Andre Ayew curls the freekick and hits Fernandinho’s head in the City wall, and the ball takes a wicked deflection right into the top left corner and into the back of the net. Joe Hart was left stranded and had no chance. It was the last kick of the first half.
The second half started the same as the first and Manchester City almost went ahead again. From a corner reset, de Bruyne makes an inswinging cross and Eliaquim Mangala sends a powerful header only inches above the crossbar. City then threaten from the counter attack. Iheanacho recovers the ball in the middle of the park and moves the ball forward to Aguero in the centre. He then slides a pass to a zooming Navas across the right. He hits a low cross right into Nordfeldt, and the keeper parries the ball into the direction of the incoming Iheanacho. Unfortunately he messed up his footing, and the ball rolls past and is duly cleared by Swansea.
Over an hour played and City threaten to score again. This time it was good link up play between their strikers. Iheanacho makes a run going inside from the right centre and flicks the ball onto Sergio Aguero. The Argentine returns the favor and tries to set up his strike partner with a brilliant lofted ball. Jordi Amat deals with the threat but could only clear the ball as far as Aguero, who makes space to pull off a shot that goes wide off the left. It is uncharacteristic of the usually sharp Argentine who seemed disappointed with his strike.
At this point, the match had taken a bit of a lull. With twenty minutes to go, Samir Nasri was poised to come on, but not before the action picked back up. Navas receives the ball from the byline and with a nice first touch skips past the defender and finds himself in the centre part of the pitch. He continues his run and finds Iheanacho who at first sight looked poised to burst through on goal, but ends up skying his shot as he slipped when taking it. That was the striker’s last contribution of the match. Save for the goal, it was largely a frustrating night for him. He is replaced by Nasri. In the final moments, City went on about keeping possession and made sure no late drama occurred that might ruin their hopes of a top-four finish.
European Competition for both Manchester Clubs?
The draw ensures Manchester City hold on to the fourth and final Champions League spot. However, they do not automatically qualify into the group stages. They will have to play a two-legged playoff in pre-season. Manchester United, meanwhile, are sixth at this point with a game in hand over fifth placed Southampton. They will need at least a draw to get back into fifth and qualify for the Europa League next season. There is another way though, for United to reach Europe and that is the FA Cup. If they triumph against Crystal Palace in the final, they go straight to the group stages of the Europa League.
Failure for Champions League qualification might be bad news for Louis Van Gaal’s tenure as United manager, but this remains a mystery as the United hierarchy has continued to silently back him amidst growing discontent from the Old Trafford faithful. However, the security scare at Old Trafford was certainly of greater concern. What could have been a great day for Manchester football was marred by this unfortunate incident. Minutes after the Manchester City match has ended, bomb disposal experts confirmed they have performed a controlled explosion within the Manchester United stadium. The suspected package was later confirmed to be a mobile phone attached to wiring. It was left by mistake following a training exercise earlier at Old Trafford. Later it has been confirmed that the match will be played Tuesday, 17th May 2000 GMT.