City take a 2-1 lead heading into the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie against Dortmund. Goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden sealed the win. A goal from Marcos Reus did the damage for the away side.
Pep Guardiola flexed his squad muscles for the first leg tie against Dortmund. In came Joao Cancelo, John Stones, Phil Foden and Ilkay Gundogan from the team that won at Leicester. Ederson was the ever-present presence in goals with Kyle Walker, John Stones, Ruben Dias and Joao Cancelo ahead of him. Rodri was partnered in midfield with Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva. Kevin De Bruyne played the well-known false nine role in attack with Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez for company. A very strong line-up from City.
The job was done on the night. Right from the start tonight City were nervy and the match felt cagey. Those nerves and almost a sense of anxiety from the players never went away all game. Gone was the Dortmund of recent weeks as the side opposite City on the field were confident and disciplined. It was by no means easy for Pep’s men.
After just the 7th minute Ederson was called into action to deny Jude Bellingham after he cut inside Kyle Walker in the box. Lots of loose possession and minor mistakes from both sides saw the game played at pace but with a lack of control in parts.
City took the lead in the 18th minute. Emre Can played a poor ball which was intercepted by Riyad Mahrez. Kevin De Bruyne came away with the ball and played in Phil Foden. His ball across the box was met by Riyad Mahrez who pulled it back for Kevin De Bruyne to smash home from close range. A lovely goal.
Kevin De Bruyne scored for the second consecutive Champions League game. Clinic.
After an underwhelming start, City had the lead. It could have been two in the 29th minute as Emre Can was judged to have kicked Rodri in the head in the box. The penalty was awarded but overturned by VAR as it was clear he did not kick him in the head, only the knee. Apparently, that is fine.
In the 38th minute yet another mistake in the game as Ederson misjudged his touch and the ball was stolen from him by Jude Bellingham. The youngster ran away to tap in his goal but was confused as the referee blew his whistle before the ball crossed the line. Clearly, he had done nothing wrong, but as the whistle had gone too early there could be no VAR check. Amazing rules UEFA. City had gotten away with one.
The second half was barely any better than the first, with the game opening up more towards the end. But by the 54th minute Pep had decided to alter proceedings and on came Gabriel Jesus for Bernardo Silva.
A dangerous-looking freekick for Dortmund in the 62nd minute was blocked by the City wall. How were your heart rates at this point? Good wall from Ederson.
Phil Foden really came into his own in the second half and had numerous chances to put City ahead. A cut back from De Bruyne in the 63rd minute was saved by Marwin Hitz. He really should have done better with such a quality chance. He was giving Mateu Morey a horrendous time however and would continue to do so.
The game was opening up more as time progressed and it was almost end to end at times. De Bruyne fired a shot wide in the 75th minute and Foden forced another save just a minute later. In the 80th minute Foden spun the defence into absolute ruin but yet again failed to find the net. It was looking like it was not his night (yet).
In the 82nd minute the inevitable happened. When your team misses so many chances you just know it is going to cost them. Erling Haaland provided the assist for Marcos Reus to slot into the bottom right-hand corner. Huge upset.
Marco Reus hit back for Dortmund after a wonderful through-ball by Haaland.
City continued to press for their second goal and in the 90th minute it arrived. Kevin De Bruyne played the ball into the box and Ilkay Gundogan took a superb touch before laying it back to Foden to finally get the goal he so thoroughly deserved. City won the tie shortly after.
It was a tough game in which City never really played well. It was nervy and cagey, but City won. They take a 2-1 lead into the second leg and I think after watching that game, that most fans will be happy with that.
FODEN’S STAR RISES
How good is this kid? He absolutely tore it up in the Champions League quarter-final against a top-quality side in Dortmund. He was energetic and full of quality moments. His display was almost marred by his bad luck in front of goal, but he even fixed that. A top tier performance from a top tier player.
For all my praise of Foden, De Bruyne deserves more. I wax lyrical about him all the time, but how can I not? He is the best midfielder in the world, and he loves the big stage. The Champions League is the biggest stage and on a night where so many of his team-mates were below par, he stood leagues above the mistakes and nerves and won us the game.
MAN OF THE MATCH
The Belgian. Of course it was. He is simply unplayable pretty much all of the time and tonight was no different. We won because of his drive, his quality and his goal production. He deserves to win the Champions League at City and hopefully this squad can reward his efforts with the trophy in the coming weeks.
Kevin De Bruyne could prove to be City's X factor in the coming weeks.
EDERSON – 6
WALKER – 7
DIAS – 7
STONES – 6
CANCELO - 6
RODRI – 4
GUNDOGAN – 6
BERNARDO – 6
DE BRUYNE – 9
FODEN – 8
MAHREZ - 7
Subs: Jesus – 6