Saturday 18 November 2017

City in driving seat after win over Sevilla

Manchester City 3 Sevilla 1

Raheem Sterling celebrates his opening goal with team-mate Fernandinho
Raheem Sterling celebrates his opening goal with team-mate Fernandinho

Manchester City produced one of their greatest European performances to secure their place in the Champions League last 16 with a brilliant 3-1 win at Sevilla.

Manuel Pellegrini's men did the damage early on as they raced into a 2-0 lead with goals from Raheem Sterling and the outstanding Fernandinho inside 11 minutes at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.

Benoit Tremoulinas pulled one back for last year's Europa League winners but Wilfried Bony put City back in control before the break and they eased to a victory that puts them top of Group D.

The draw between Borussia Monchengladbach and Juve means that City ensured qualification with two games to spare.

Pellegrini raised some eyebrows in his selection as he left in-form Kevin De Bruyne on the bench, but his decision to play Fernando in midfield, allowing Fernandinho and Yaya Toure to push forward worked superbly.

They made a blistering start with Fernandinho twice going close in the opening minutes, first testing Sergio Rico and then shooting wide. Bony also drove a shot across goal before City went ahead with eight minutes gone.

Fernandinho was the architect with a defence-splitting pass and Sterling raced through to finish with composure from a difficult angle.

City did not relent and they claimed a second three minutes later as Sterling seized possession and broke down the left to tee up Bony. Rico parried the shot but the rebound looped into the air and Fernandinho followed up to head home.

Former Sevilla star Jesus Navas almost added another after a strong run down the right but Rico tipped his powerful low drive onto the post.

Sevilla also contributed to a breathless opening and they should have had one back after Vicente Iborra headed dangerously across the City box but Fernando Llorente volleyed over.

Navas saw another shot saved by Rico and Toure had an effort blocked but Sevilla did reply as Coke skipped into the area and crossed for Tremoulinas to head in.

Joe Hart then produced a brilliant save to keep out a Timothee Kolodziejczak header and Iborra slammed the rebound into the side-netting.

It was a worrying spell for City but they reasserted their grip on the game through Bony after 36 minutes. Navas, revelling back on his old stomping ground, was the provider after a good run down the right and Bony tucked away his shot coolly from in front of goal.

City's pace, perhaps inevitably, dropped after the break but they continued to probe. Sterling remained dangerous and twice jinked across the area. He first set up Fernandinho to shoot at Rico before he tested the keeper himself.

Another chance came as Toure combined well with Bony but then curled his shot wide. Bony had another effort blocked as City continued to create the better chances in a dominant performance.

Such was City's superiority, Pellegrini was even able to give Fabian Delph a run-out in the closing minutes to step up his comeback from injury.

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