Guardiola fires up Man City
Aguero, Guendogan show enough to suggest club belong in the top echelons of European football
MAN CITY 4
(Sergio Aguero 8, 28-pen, 77, Kelechi Iheanacho 90+1)
B M'GLADBACH 0
Manchester City have a new conductor.
He waves the baton to an irresistible beat.
He charms the audience with verve and finesse.
His 90-minute performance yesterday morning (Singapore time) left the Etihad Stadium faithful spellbound and in love.
Pep Guardiola is who they have been waiting for all along.
Pep Guardiola. PHOTO: AFP
City swept aside Borussia Moenchengladbach 4-0 yesterday morning (Singapore time), and the crowd were carried off their feet as Guardiola began his maiden Champions League campaign with the club with a bang.
Sergio Aguero led the charge with a superb hat-trick, before Kelechi Iheanacho buried one himself late in the game.
This win was so comprehensive.
"He is an amazing player and we are so happy to have him here." - Man City boss Pep Guardiola, on Ilkay Guendogan (above). PHOTO: AFP
Their previous struggles in the continental competition are well documented.
Under Manuel Pellegrini, they made gradual progress, and last season they went all the way to the semi-finals for the first time after twice being eliminated in the Round of 16, and twice in the group stage under Roberto Mancini.
But their Abu Dhabi owners, who from the start made known their objective of world domination, wanted more.
In Guardiola, they possibly have found the final piece of the jigsaw.
The Champions League is the Spaniard's stage.
In seven campaigns in the competition as manager, he has never failed to reach at least the last four.
Twice, he won it with Barcelona.
After the systematic dismantling of Moenchengladbach, City fans will be convinced the 45-year-old also has the weapons to finally break down the Champions League wall.
There is Aguero, the Argentine striker of such pedigree that any attempt at a breakthrough without him would be unthinkable.
Three times he sliced the German outfit apart to take his all-time Champions League tally for City to 20 goals.
In the eighth minute, he stole in at the near post to stab in the opener, before netting from the spot to hand the hosts a 2-0 half-time lead.
His masterclass was completed 13 minutes from time, when he rounded goalkeeper Yann Sommer to slot the ball into an empty net.
The hitman looked at home on club football's biggest stage, but a new City star was also born.
On his debut, Ilkay Guendogan sizzled in the No. 10 role vacated by the injured David Silva.
And the 25-year-old midfielder showed just why Guardiola made him his first signing at City, ahead of other high-profile options like Paul Pogba, N'Golo Kante and Toni Kroos.
His energetic style and brilliant passing fit nicely into Guardiola's meticulously crafted mould, while his link-up play against the visitors was crucial in the final third.
Brought down by Christoph Kramer for the penalty which Aguero converted, Guendogan was playing his first game in four months and there is so much more to come.
And the list of five-star performers for City goes on.
Kevin de Bruyne's speed and direct running were painful reminders to Chelsea, who had him in their stable but then foolishly released him.
Raheem Sterling's rejuvenation after a poor first season under Pellegrini was another positive takeaway.
John Stones, the much-criticised centre back thought to be pretty but ineffective, looked an elegant and composed figure.
Playing with the width that Guardiola demands, City displayed remarkable urgency and concentration and, crucially, a balance that revealed close to no weaknesses.
The Citizens oozed poise and panache.
At Moenchengladbach's expense, Guardiola rolled on to his seventh straight win, firing a warning to their Group C rivals and his former club Barcelona, who impressively thumped Celtic 7-0 just a day earlier.
After the match, Guardiola said: "Last season with Manuel (Pellegrini) was the first time in the semi-final.
"The target is to be there every season."
It must be music to the ears for City fans.
Gladbach say 'sorry' to absent fans' bosses
Borussia Moenchengladbach handed out tongue-in-cheek letters of apology to the bosses of the supporters who attended yesterday morning's (Singapore time) rearranged Champions League game at Manchester City.
The Group C match was postponed on Tuesday due to thunderous downpours at the Etihad Stadium and rescheduled for the following evening.
It meant some travelling fans stayed in Manchester for an extra day and Gladbach appealed for clemency on their behalf in letters written in German and English that were left on their seats in the stadium.
"Dear Sir, Dear Boss," the letter began. "Unfortunately, your employee (Name) cannot appear at work on this Thursday as he is in Manchester to fulfil the important duty to support VfL Borussia Moenchengladbach in the Uefa Champions League.
"We thank you for being his boss, for accepting his apology to stay away for one day."
The letters carried the signature of the German club's sporting director Max Eberl.
Around 1,600 Gladbach fans turned up for the game on Tuesday, which was postponed 20 minutes before the scheduled kick-off time.
Gladbach expected between 400 and 800 supporters to attend the rearranged fixture. - AFP.
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