Manchester City returned to winning ways on Wednesday night with a hard-fought victory away to RB Leipzig in the UEFA Champions League.
The visitors headed into the Red Bull Arena clash on a losing streak, having been beaten by Newcastle United in the Carabao Cup and Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League, but bounced back to normal service courtesy of two late goals in east Germany.
Manchester City welcomed back the domestically-suspended Rodri as well as seeing Bernardo Silva return from injury to add some much-needed creativity to Pep Guardiola’s midfield.
The first big chance fell to the Portuguese maestro as he was waiting at the back post to convert Phil Foden’s shot but he mistimed his kick, letting the ball fly past him.
It did not take City long to storm into the lead though, as Foden neatly tucked away Rico Lewis’ cross with the two academy graduates linking up well.
The visitors went into the break with a well-deserved lead but were soon penned back after the teams took to the field again.
Summer signing Lois Openda fired past Ederson against the run of play to spice things up and wake up the Red Bull Arena – which had become similar to a library in the first-half.
City went close on multiple occasions but uncharacteristic misses from Haaland and his teammates left Manchester City looking down on another winless match.
This all changed though with the introduction of substitute Julian Alvarez, who hauled his side into the lead with a spectacular curling effort.
The Champions League holders confirmed the victory as fellow substitute Jeremy Doku raced through on goal to score his first goal in the competition.
City’s win left them with maximum points in the group following their opening day win over Red Star Belgrade at the Etihad Stadium.
Key midfield duo return
With consecutive defeats to Newcastle and Wolves, the Cityzens have definitely been missing out on some quality throughout the team.
Thanks to Rodri’s suspension being exempt from European games as well as Bernardo Silva’s return from injury, City were given that injection of class.
Both players being thrown back into the mix helped the whole team whir once more, providing the much-needed motor oil for Blues’ engine room and attack.
Although Rodri will miss City’s weekend showdown away to Arsenal, it was still nice to see him back in the side and Guardiola also now has Silva at his disposal for the North London trip.
Manchester City find their wings…
There are few places where the treble-winners do not win but Manchester City have previously struggled to win away to RB Leipzig. Guardiola’s men have taken on the Bundesliga side twice at the Red Bull Arena since their opponents’ formation in 2009.
A Group Stage dead rubber saw the Cityzens succumb to a 2-1 loss following Kyle Walker’s silly red card, while a 1-1 draw was all they could muster last season in the last-16, back in February.
Manchester finally broke the duct and won at the ground on Wednesday, ticking off another previous hurdle.
Call me ambitious but maybe Tottenham away might be next, who knows…
Rico Lewis: MIDFIELDER
It is already incredibly impressive that local Manchester lad Rico Lewis has become a regular in his boyhood club’s first-team at just 18-year-old.
Having stepped up from the academy during last campaign, the defender settled into the Sky Blue backline with relative ease alongside international superstars.
Yet, Lewis proved his worth even further, as he stepped into a midfield role in Germany on Wednesday night.
Creating several chances, including setting up Foden’s opener, the young Englishman was at the centre of everything in the game and played a pivotal role throughout.
A happy homecoming
Josko Gvardiol joined City in the summer transfer window from RB Leipzig and the defender helped his side to their first victory away to his former side.
The Croatian was a rock at the back as usual, playing out ball after ball, starting attacks and working his way out of tricky situations with Leipzig’s pacey pressing.
This was all the more valuable as the Bundesliga side came forward time and time again during the closing minutes in search of an equaliser.
In a team that already is abundant with quality at the centre-back position with the likes of Ruben Dias and John Stones, Gvardiol looks to have settled right in at his new home.
The third kit is pure fire
Having already played nine games prior to Wednesday’s evening clash in Germany, City were yet to wear their third kit this campaign.
Donning the dark shirt with lightning bolts across it in the Red Bull Arena ensured they had the apparel to match the performance.
Personally, there is no denying that it is my favourite from a trio of decent releases by Puma this summer.
A beautiful kit that looks all the better at night time, with that neon blue and coral finish; City’s newest shirt perfectly marked their return to winning ways.
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