UEFA Champions League Match Report: Man City 5-1 Atalanta
Man City stormed 5-1 past Italian outfit Atalanta in their Group C encounter on Matchday 3 of the UEFA Champions League, as Pep Guardiola’s side registered their third consecutive victory in the group stage of the competition to take a step closer to qualification.
Ruslan Malinovskyi’s opener from the penalty spot was cancelled out by Sergio Aguero’s first-half brace before a quickfire hat-trick from Raheem Sterling after the interval ensured that the Citizens absolutely demolished their opposition on the night to claim all three points in an emphatic manner.
Guardiola opted for a change in formation from a 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1, with Rodri and Fernandinho playing as the makeshift pairing at the heart of the defence.
Gundogan and De Bruyne formed the pivot in the midfield while Phil Foden started in the No.10 role with Mahrez and Sterling playing out wide on either side to complement Aguero up top.
Atalanta had been written off completely by many prior to the start of the game but the Serie A side showed strong signs of promise in the early stages of the game and found a surprise breakthrough much against the run of play.
Fernandinho brought Josip Ilicic down at the edge of the box and Malinovskyi stepped up from twelve yards to convert the resultant penalty, sending Ederson the wrong way to make it 1-0 just before the half-hour mark.
City, though, had been regarded as the strong favourites in the clash and it wasn’t long before the Premier League giants stamped their authority. Sterling’s excellent lobbed pass from the edge of the box had all the guile in the world to outwit the Atalanta backline and Aguero was at the right place to level the scores in the 34th minute.
The hosts’ dominance continued to reign supreme and Sterling’s lung-busting run drew a foul from Andrea Masiello inside the box as Aguero coolly stepped up to convert the penalty and put City 2-1 ahead before the interval.
The second half was nothing but one-way traffic and after playing a key role in each of Aguero’s first-half goals, Sterling was simply unstoppable after the restart.
Foden set him up for an easy finish to make the scoreline 3-1 before a sumptuous through ball from Gundogan set the England international free down the left side, allowing him to cut inside and get the home crowd off their feet with a clinical finish.
The game looked dead and buried but Man City were apparently keen to inflict more pain on the Italians as Mahrez set up Sterling for his hat-trick in the 69th minute. The winger had a glorious opportunity to grab a sixth goal for the hosts but it was a night to remember for him, nevertheless.
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There was a rare blemish for the Citizens when Foden was given the marching orders for a second bookable offence but Pep Guardiola will definitely be a pleased man after his team completely tore the visitors to pieces on Tuesday night.
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