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Man City to play tonight after tie postponed by flash floods

Manchester City and Borussia Monchengladbach will play their postponed Champions League tie at 7.45 this evening.

Published: 14th September 2016 08:33 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th September 2016 08:33 AM   |  A+A-

Sterling-AFP

Manchester City's English midfielder Raheem Sterling (R) celebrates with Manchester City's Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho after scoring during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and West Ham United at the Etihad Stadium

Manchester City and Borussia Monchengladbach will play their postponed Champions League tie at 7.45 this evening after torrential rain forced the postponement of the game at the Etihad Stadium last night.

The Group C encounter was called off 20 minutes before the scheduled 7.45pm kick-off on safety and security grounds after flash-flooding wreaked havoc in the surrounding area. Despite an hour and a half of heavy downpours, the pitch at the Etihad was draining well when the rain began to relent shortly after 7.30pm and looked playable.

But the thunderstorms had flooded roads and walkways around the stadium and the decision was taken on safety grounds by the safety inspection group in conjunction with both clubs and Uefa officials to postpone the game amid concern about the risks to supporters. It is likely that the game will be played this evening although a final decision had still to be taken last night.

It is the second time during Pep Guardiola's short reign as City manager that a game has been called off due to adverse weather. In July, City's eagerly awaited International Champions Cup tie against Manchester United in Beijing was cancelled after flooding rendered the Bird's Nest pitch unplayable.

Uefa rules state that a decision on the rescheduling of a European tie must be taken "within two hours of the decision to cancel the match" but officials from both clubs were still in discussions with their counterparts from European football's governing body after 9.30pm.

It is believed Monchengladbach were keen to play the game this afternoon but City had police, stewarding and supporter considerations to take into account.

Around 1,500 Monchengladbach fans had made the journey to Manchester and were inside the stadium when it was announced the game was off. There were only a few hundred City fans inside the ground at the time, with others being turned away at the turnstiles.

The entire Metrolink network had been suspended after two substations were hit by lightning, and there were reports of stores in the city centre being flooded. Cars were left abandoned on the roads.

The postponement left hundreds of Monchengladbach fans disappointed. One fan, Gunni Banze, said: "I have driven here by car and I'm booked on the ferry from Dover to Calais so what I can do? I can't stay. I have paid for everything to go back tomorrow."

A pitch inspection involving the Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers and his fellow officials as well as City's head groundsman, Lee Jackson, was carried out at 6.53pm. Kuipers attempted rolling a ball only for it to stop dead in its tracks.

Three minutes later, the City goalkeepers, Claudio Bravo and Willy Caballero, appeared to warm up but were told to return to the dressing room less than two minutes later as the weather worsened.

Jackson reappeared at 7.15pm before a postponement was officially announced at 7.25pm following around 90 minutes of fierce thunderstorms and lightning.

Monchengladbach defender Oscar Wendt said: "It's hard for us because we prepared for this match, but it's harder for our supporters because they had a long journey here and bought their tickets. 90 per cent of our supports have to leave tomorrow so they can't see the game."

Article 26.03 of the Uefa competition handbook states: "If the match cannot commence for whatever reason... it must be played either the next day or on a reserve date or other date set by the Uefa administration... Its decision is final."

City's Premier League match against Sunderland in February 2014 was postponed due to high winds that the Met Office claimed were a "risk to life".

Last night's postponement was unwelcome for Guardiola, whose team face Bournemouth at the Etihad on Saturday afternoon. Guardiola had made three changes to the team that beat Manchester United 2-1 on Saturday, with Bacary Sagna, Nolito and Kelechi Iheanacho making way for Pablo Zabaleta, Jesus Navas and Sergio Aguero.

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