Bernardo Silva was excellent as Man City beat Cub Brugge. Credit: Getty.
An excellent second-half performance from Manchester City ensured they took an important three from their home Champions League clash with Club Brugge on Wednesday.
The Premier League champions won 4-1 on the night, meaning they need just a point in their final two group games to progress to the knockout stages of the competition, but it was far from plain sailing for Man City.
The hosts were sublime in the opening quarter of an hour and netted the opener via Phil Foden, only to be pegged back by an unlucky own-goal from John Stones, which sparked Brugge into life.
Man City struggled to find a way past the Belgians from then on and it remained level at the break. But a well-worked passage early in the second half resulted in Riyad Mahrez heading past Simon Mignolet and from there Pep Guardiola’s men dominated.
Substitutes Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus netted as well to round off a superb night for Man City that saw them move top of Group A.
- De Ketelaere: The young attacker is reportedly on the radar of several top European clubs, and he’ll have done his reputation no harm on Wednesday with an impressive display, in particular during the first half. His cross resulted in Stones’s own-goal and his ability to hold the ball up and bring team-mates into play was key for Brugge during the opening 45 minutes.
- Manchester United: Ahead of this weekend’s derby, the Red Devils will be delighted City were given a thorough workout for stages of Wednesday’s game, especially given the ease with which they won the last meeting a few weeks ago.
- Raheem Sterling: It’s been a difficult season for the England international, who has struggled to find form and regular game time. So that goal late on should give him a much-needed confidence boost, even if the finish couldn’t have been simpler for the 26-year-old.
- Pep Guardiola: With City looking comfortable in the latter stages, the Catalan coach managed to withdraw several key players ahead of the derby, such as Jack Grealish, Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and Kyle Walker.
- Stanley Nsoki: The defender put in a solid performance in the first period, but he switched off in the 54th minute and the result was devastating for his side. That lapse in concentration allowed Mahrez to head in Joao Cancelo’s cross and proved to be a game-changing moment.
- Club Brugge & RB Leipzig: Group A looks pretty much wrapped up after four games, with a four-point gap separating second-place Paris Saint-Germain and Brugge in third. Following a 2-2 draw with PSG on Wednesday, RB Leipzig are already eliminated from the Champions League and their hopes of dropping into the Europa League are also slim.
Man City (4-3-3): Ederson 6; Walker 7 (Zinchenko 80), Stones 6, Laporte 6, Cancelo 8; Rodri 8, Silva 8 (De Bruyne 75), Gundogan 7; Mahrez 7 (Sterling 69; 7), Foden 7 (Palmer 80), Grealish 6 (Jesus 68; 7).
Club Brugge (5-3-2): Mignolet 7; Mata 6 (Van der Brempt 78), Hendry 6, Machele 5, Nsoki 6, Sobol 5 (Ricca 73); Vormer 5, Rits 5 (Mbamba-Muanda 78), Vanaken 6, Lang 6 (Dost 78), De Ketelaere 7 (Sowah).
Man of the Match
Despite not being quite at his best in the first period, Silva is going to take the award. It’s becoming a regular occurrence to pick the ex-Monaco man as the game’s standout performer and he’s undoubtedly been City’s best player in 2021/22.
It’s just the small matter of the Manchester derby after this, when City make the short journey to Old Trafford this weekend. Manchester United already have a slight advantage ahead of the game and their players have enjoyed an extra 24 hours rest after playing on Tuesday night. The game kicks off at 12:30pm and will be shown live on Sky Sports in the UK.