Following a tough draw against Aston Villa this past weekend, and a crucial top-of-the-table clash on the horizon in the Premier League, Manchester City cruised into Seville on Tuesday night and walked away with a dominant display and a 0-4 scoreline in their first Champions League match of the season.
After a few last-minute fitness issues, Pep Guardiola was forced to make a few changes to his back four. With John Stones and Kyle Walker unable to participate, Manuel Akanji made his debut, filling in alongside Ruben Dias. Sergio Gomez had his first competitive start for the club at left back, with Joao Cancelo returning to right back.
Rodri and Kevin De Bruyne took their guaranteed positions, with Bernardo Silva returned to midfield. Jack Grealish made his return from injury to play on the left on Erling Haaland, with Phil Foden flanking him to his right.
City started the match off on the right track, with quick passing and an aggressive press to win the ball back quickly whenever they were dispossessed.
Before the first goal, City had a few opportunities to take the lead from Grealish and De Bruyne, but their efforts were unable to land on target.
In the 20th minute, Foden received the ball on the right wing and played in De Bruyne, who made a run down towards the byline. The Belgian fired a ball across the six-yard box into a surging Haaland, who found the back of the open net.
De Bruyne had an opportunity to make it 2-0 just minutes later, but his free-kick narrowly missed the target and caught the side netting.
Sevilla had an opportunity to equalise in the 40th minute when Papu Gomez found a yard of space on the edge of the six-yard box. But his near post effort was hit far too strong and flew over the crossbar.
The first half ended 1-0, with Sevilla unable to even muster a shot on goal.
After spending most of the first half pinned down in their own box, Sevilla started the second half off strong. The Spanish side began to press higher and higher up the pitch. However, that ambition from Sevilla allowed them to be more susceptible on the counter.
De Bruyne had a perfect opportunity to double City’s lead again in the 48th minute. The 31-year-old intercepted a back pass and found himself in a one-on-one with the goalkeeper. But his near-post attempt was saved, and it was beginning to feel as though City may not be able to find a second.
There were a few more near chances on the counter that lacked the final ball to create a clear chance. However, in the 58th minute, City finally had their moment. Foden received the ball from Cancelo at the top of the 18-yard box, feinted a shot and created enough space to fire a low shot that the goalkeeper had no chance of stopping.
It was a well-deserved goal for a City side that had dominated the entire match.
After Foden’s goal, Grealish was subbed off for Ilkay Gundogan. It was a surprising move due to Grealish’s impressive first-half performance, but the Englishman has just returned from an injury setback.
City thought they had stretched their lead to three in the 63rd minute. Bernardo lofted a cross to a wide-open Foden, who calmly headed the ball across the six-yard box to an open Gundogan for a tap-in. But the flag was raised for an offside in the buildup.
Just three minutes later, City were able to get their third. On yet another counterattack, Foden fired a low shot across the goalkeeper. The shot was saved but Bono couldn’t control the rebound, which fell to the feet of Haaland for the tap-in.
With his second goal of the game, Haaland became the fastest player to score 25 goals in the Champions League, beating Filippo Inzaghi and Rudd van Nistelrooy by ten games.
Following the third goal, Haaland and Foden were replaced by Julian Alvarez and Cole Palmer.
Minutes later, De Bruyne and Rodri were replaced by Riyad Mahrez and Kalvin Phillips, who made his return after suffering an upper-body injury in the mid-season friendly against Barcelona.
In the closing moments of the game, Ruben Dias got his first goal of the season. The Blues had worked the ball around the box and Cancelo’s quick cross into the six-yard box found the defender for an easy tap-in.
Following their impressive display against Sevilla, City will have their first test of the season against a team challenging for titles on Saturday as they take on Antonio Conte and Tottenham.
Man of the Match
Originally it looked as though Manuel Akanji was going to walk away with a Man of the Match performance in his debut. However, after grabbing another two goals in his first Champions League match as a City player, the honour goes to Haaland. Not even ten games into his City career, and the Norwegian nightmare has already scored more goals than all but six players last season. It's safe to say that the Bundesliga tax was not applied on this transfer.
Ederson - 7
Cancelo - 8
Dias - 8
Akanji - 9
Gomez - 7
Rodri - 7
Bernardo - 8
De Bruyne - 8
Grealish - 7
Haaland - 9
Foden - 8
Subsititues: Gundogan (7), Mahrez (6), Palmer (6.5) Alvarez (6), Phillips (7)
Written by: @IVIeehan
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