Both teams had their chances in an even game in Greece, but neither was able to make the decisive breakthrough and they will reconvene at the City of Manchester Stadium with the tie goalless. Roberto Mancini’s side, looking to repeat or better their 2008/09 team, when they reached the quarter-finals, will seek to finish the job on 24 February.
Aris were unbeaten in five previous home games in this season’s competition, and boasted an unbeaten European home record stretching back 40 years. Yet goalkeeper Michalis Sifakis was called upon to make two solid stops early on to prevent the Greek team falling behind.
He dived to his left to parry David Silva’s well-struck shot in the ninth minute before Aleksandr Kolarov’s low left-wing cross found its way to the feet of City’s January signing Edin Džeko; his shot did not carry enough power to unduly trouble the goalkeeper.
Giannis Michalitsios’s charges showed little as an attacking force in the opening period, although five minutes before the break Neto did threaten a breakthrough, curling a free-kick just wide of Joe Hart’s right-hand post.
While the home team continued to press as the second half unfolded, they were unable to cause too many problems and evidence of City’s continued threat arrived just past the hour, Sifakis producing a fine stop to turn over Džeko’s powerful header with his right hand.
Hart was then properly extended for the first time, diving to his right and pushing Neto’s swerving effort behind. Džeko responded almost immediately, narrowly failing to find the target from range, but both sides must hope their attacking radars function more accurately in next week’s second leg.