Manchester City secured their place in the UEFA Champions League knock-out stages with a routine victory over ten-men BSC Young Boys.
The evening began with both sets of fans being greeted with an ambitious light show at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night. City ensured that the high quality entertainment continued after the referee blew his whistle, taking less than six minutes to grab their first chance.
Rico Lewis saw his close-range effort cleared off the line by Loris Benito much to the surprise of all inside the stadium including the youngster himself. The Citizens went close again through Kyle Walker’s powerful free-kick, but Young Boys keeper Anthony Racioppi saved and denied Phil Foden on the follow up.
Pep Guardiola’s side were awarded a penalty just minutes later though after Matheus Nunes was felled by Sandro Lauper in the area. Manchester City’s go-to danger man Erling Haaland inevitably tucked away the spot kick, handing his side the lead and grabbing his 38th goal in just 34 Champions League career appearances.
After a lull in the game, the home side found their second through a sublime move involving two England internationals. Jack Grealish played a pinpoint ball across the field to Foden who then danced past a defender and powered into the box before emphatically tucking the ball past Racioppi.
Manchester City blasted out of the blocks for the second half. Their Norwegian powerhouse further rubbished his ‘tap-in king’ nicknames by smashing in his second goal of the evening from outside of the box.
Things turned from friendly to feisty after this latest hit as Cyndi Lauper’s namesake Sandro saw red after picking up a second yellow. His foul on Nathan Ake, who had been brought on as a substitute for John Stones, sparked a brawl between the players which then reignited minutes after he had departed.
Manchester City went close several times after this, but despite heavy pressure and the introduction of live-wire Jeremy Doku, they were not able to add to their lead.
Here are five things we learned from Manchester City’s conclusive 3-0 win over Bern’s BSC Young Boys at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night!
Haaland after Aguero’s record
It is no secret that Erling Haaland has been a revelation for Manchester City since his much-anticipated arrival in the summer of last year. From breaking the Premier League goals in a season record to winning the Treble in his debut year, it is safe to say that the striker has impressed.
Yet the numbers are starting to get even scarier when comparing them with the Champions League greats and a certain City legend.
Sergio Aguero managed 41 goals in 79 Champions League games but after Erling Haaland’s latest brace on Tuesday night, the Norwegian is just two away from the Argentine having played 45 less matches.
Pep Guardiola’s new striker may even eclipse his old’s scoring record before the curtains are drawn on this campaign’s group stage.
Citizens’ European Efficiency
It is very easy as Champions League holders to take European nights and wins like these for granted, especially given the opposition. But make no mistake, this efficiency is part of the Pep Guardiola mantra of having a well-oiled machine of a team that is relentless in the pursuit of perfection.
Manchester City going four for four in the group stage and qualifying at the earliest chance to do so shows that this process is well and truly in place in Manchester. The days of the Premier League champions struggling to make their mark on Europe are long gone and there’s a certain Catalan coach’s obsession for sublimity to thank for that.
Foden is still City’s brightest gem
Manchester City have seen some fabulous players come through the door since Phil Foden made his first team debut. From the likes of Julian Alvarez and Erling Haaland to the recent addition of Jeremy Doku, the Citizens have been blessed with creatively attacking options.
Yet despite the millions spent, it is very arguable that Foden, a lifelong City fan who made his way up to Pep Guardiola’s squad via the academy path, is City’s brightest talent. A reminder of this came with another showing of his perfect mixture of dynamism and grit, demonstrating an air of flair with his first-half goal.
His elegant running with the ball and the tidy finish ensured that the England international was a joy to watch all evening, just as he likely will be for the rest of his career.
Half-time shirt swapping is NOT okay
Please don’t take me for a prude or worse, Roy Keane, because I can enjoy most aspects of a modern football match without whinging. Yet everyone watching Tuesday night’s game observed something un acceptable at the Etihad Stadium.
No, I am not speaking of the red card brawl but rather the captain of Young Boys, Mohamed Camara asking for Erling Haaland’s shirt at half-time.
Swap to your heart’s content at full-time but seeing the opposition’s leader begging for the shirt of the player who just scored, when half the game remains, was verging on pathetic.
Who let the bin bags in?
I have the utmost respect for the Etihad Stadium’s security team but who let in the group of bin bags and Minions?
All jokes aside, the supporters of Young Boys had made the long trip to Manchester knowing they were likely to see their team lose but were in strong voice throughout. It was the Swiss gang’s attire which raised the eyebrows of both those in the stadium and at home on social media.
Dressed in black and yellow ponchos, the intended intimidating vibe away to the European champions came off more like a clear-out sale at the cleaning supplies aisle in ASDA. Young Boys gave a decent showing on the pitch but the less said the better about off of it.
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