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Five Things Learned: Manchester City 3-1 FC Copenhagen (UEFA Champions League Last-16 Second-Leg)



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Manchester City easily advanced to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League defeating FC Copenhagen by a score of 3-1 on the night, with an aggregate score of 6-2 across both legs.

First-half goals from Manuel Akanji, Julian Alvarez and Erling Haaland allowed Pep Guardiola to give his key players some vital rest ahead of Sunday’s massive match against Liverpool.

Manchester City went into the game with a 3-1 lead on aggregate and set the tone within the first five minutes, when Akanji volleyed in an impressive goal off a corner kick. Despite being well marked, the Swiss international timed his chance perfectly and found the top corner. 

The Sky Blues were able to grab their second goal just four minutes later when Alvarez took a shot from a tight angle the edge of the 18-yard box. His effort went straight through the keeper’s hands and into the back of a net for a fortunate goal. 

With the Liverpool match on the horizon it was the perfect start for Manchester City, who had increased their lead on aggregate to five in less than 10 minutes. 

However, after taking an early lead, City appeared to have taken their foot off the gas and invited Copenhagen back into the match. The Danish side grabbed a goal back in the 29th minute when Mohamed Elyounoussi scored on a lovely counterattack. 

Despite giving Copenhagen a chance to get back into the game, City closed out the half on a high note when Rodri played an excellent ball in over the top of the defence to Haaland running in behind – the Norwegian controlled the ball, fought off a defender and used his body to send the goalkeeper the wrong way before scoring near post. 

It was a goal seemingly from nothing in the closing moments of the half, that gave Manchester City a 3-1 lead for the night, and restored their four-goal lead on aggregate. 

Sergio Gomez replaced Rodri at half-time and Haaland’s goal appeared to have killed off any competitive instincts in either side, as the entirety of the second half was played at a much slower and sloppier pace.

Guardiola elected to bring on John Stones for Ruben Dias, Micah Hamilton for Mattheus Nines and Jacob Wright for Haaland during the closing moments of the match to keep his players fresh before the potential title decider this weekend.

No goals were scored in the second-half, and Rico Lewis had the best chance to get on the scoresheet when his effort took a deflection and hit the crossbar.

The win sees Manchester City advance to the quarter-finals of the Champions League once again, as they continue to make their push to defend their European crown.

Here are the five things learned from Manchester City’s win over Copenhagen!

The squad for Liverpool will be well rested

Pep Guardiola rarely gets a chance to rest starters before key matches, especially during the business end of the season. However, the two goal lead at the start allowed him to give reduced minutes to Rodri and John Stones, as well as rest Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, Kyle Walker, and Phil Foden.

Liverpool have the disadvantage of having to travel to Prague for their Europa League match on Thursday. While the lower quality opposition will likely allow Jurgen Klopp to rotate his side, it will still likely leave the German manager with a few headaches before Sunday’s showdown.

Jacob Wright a name to remember

This now marks the second time this season that Guardiola has given the 18-year-old midfielder minutes this season. It’s far from easy to break through Guardiola’s team, especially in the Rodri role, but Wright didn’t lose possession once and set-up Lewis’ chance in the closing moments. Only time will tell if Wright becomes a squad player, or a transfer tool.

Manuel Akanji continues fine form

Like much of the City squad, it had been a slow start to the season for the Swiss international. However, February has been kind to Akanji. A string of excellent performances against Brentford, Bournemouth and now Copenhagen means Akanji might once again be fighting Kyle Walker for that right back spot heading into the run-in.

Much needed minutes for Haaland

Some might think it’s a questionable decision to play Haaland for nearly a full 90 minutes in a midweek game between the derby and Liverpool. However, the Norwegian missed a significant amount of time during the winter period and had quite a lot of rust to shake off.

While there have still been a few questionable misses since coming back, it’s hard to argue against Haaland’s improved build-up play and his well worked goal against Copenhagen will give him even more confidence against a tired Liverpool side.  

City look more comfortable than ever in the Champions League

It’s funny looking back at City side’s of years past and how much of a challenge European competitions used to be. Manchester City have now made the quarter-finals in six consecutive seasons, and have now won 10 matches in a row in Europe.

While Guardiola won’t always be in Manchester, and it won’t always be this easy, it’s quite striking to see how much more composed his City sides are in European competition compared to just a few years ago. It remains one of his most under appreciated achievements.