- Tom Cayless
Jack Grealish stars in Champions League debut – Manchester City 6-3 RB Leipzig Review
This evening marked Pep Guardiola's 300th game in charge of Manchester City, it had absolutely everything - from 9 goals to a red card. His side ran out 6-3 winners in their first UEFA Champions League game since May's final heartbreak.
Guardiola named a changed starting XI for the first time in three games, an unusual stretch for the boss. Ruben Dias also captained the side for the first time.
Despite the final result, the game started very flat with City keeping possession but not doing much with the ball. Nevertheless, the breakthrough came in the 15th minute. Surprisingly, City scored directly from a corner. Jack Grealish swung the ball inwards, in between the penalty spot and six-yard-box, Nathan Ake rose highest and headed off the cross-bar into the RB Leipzig net.
City then doubled their lead 13 minutes later thanks to a Nordi Mukiele own-goal. Kevin De Bruyne crossed towards the far-post, Mukiele got mixed up trying to head out for a corner and put it past a stranded Peter Gulasci to give the hosts a 2-0 advantage.
Jesse Marsch's side finally got a grip hold of the game after City's openers. Dani Olmo played in Andre Silva who slotted past Ederson, however, it was ruled offside. Nevertheless, they got their goal just before half-time. A ball to the back-post found its way to Nordi Mukiele who headed across the goal to Nkunku who headed past Ederson to grab one back for the visitors.
On the stroke of half-time VAR struck, the hosts were given a penalty. Riyad Mahrez, who has a poor record from the spot - missing 5 out of his previous 9, this time finished excellently into the top corner.
Just five minutes into the second half, Nkunku grabbed his second to make it 3-2. Identical to the first, the French youngster headed past Ederson but this time from an Olmo chip over Ruben Dias. An excellent assist, it has to be said.
Five minutes after one, Grealish got his Champions League debut goal. A clearance from Ruben Dias coincidentally found City's record transfer on the left, Grealish drove down the channel cut inside and hammered towards the far-post to take City's tally to 4. The former Villa captain really deserved that, after looking threatening all evening.
City thought they had their fifth after Joao Cancelo played through Ferran Torres, who rounded Gulasci and scored, but the new first-choice City striker was caught offside.
Nkunku then got his hattrick, Younes Poulsen slipped him in behind Nathan Ake and Nkunku finished excellently past Ederson. Tension was added into the Etihad air, with City only one ahead with less than 20 minutes to go.
Near enough straight from kick-off, Joao Cancelo restored City's two-goal deficit. He picked up the ball in an area the Leipzig defenders would have invited him to shoot, about 30-yards out, he did and miraculously scored. Definitely one to remember from the Portuguese international.
Next came a red card for former City player, Angelino. Despite already been on a yellow, he flung himself into a challenge and in the process was given a second yellow and in part, his marching orders. Not the return to the Etihad he would have hoped for.
Gabriel Jesus, off the bench, got City's sixth and final goal of the night. A scramble found itself at Jesus' feet after a blocked effort from Dias. The Brazilian finished it and the game too. There were no more comebacks from the German visitors after that.
Ederson (5) Cancelo (7) Ake (6) Dias (6) Zinchenko (5) Rodri (6) Bernardo Silva (6) De Bruyne (8) Grealish (9) Torres (6) Mahrez (7)
Substitues: Fernandihno (6) Gundogan (7) Foden (6) Sterling (6) Jesus (7)
In some aspects, tonight was the start City wanted - three points especially with PSG dropping points too. Going forwards, City were good and the six goals show that but defensively they were suspect.
Maybe that should have been expected, as they were without John Stones or Aymeric Laporte, but in the bigger tests, which City have plenty of coming up, they'll need to be more organised because relying on poor defending from the opposition, like they did tonight, won't serve them well in the games to come.
Written by @Tom72ii
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