Pep Guardiola’s side are top of the group and was heading into the next phase until 10-man Hoffenheim came from 2-0 down and scored a 92nd-minute equaliser to draw 2-2 with Lyon. Manchester City recorded their biggest win in the Champions League as they thrashed Shakhtar Donetsk – but an injury-time goal in the other Group F match meant they must wait to secure qualification for the last 16.
But City will qualify as group winners with one game to spare if they beat Lyon in France on Tuesday, 27 November. “Unfortunately we haven’t qualified, but we are so close and will try to maintain this level,” said Guardiola.
“The fact it’s not done will make sure we will focus on the competition. It was another excellent performance, the team attacked very well. We have not qualified but made a good step to finishing first in the group phase.”
This season’s European campaign started badly for City with a 2-1 home defeat by Lyon and they then conceded in the opening minute of their second game against Hoffenheim. However, City fought back to win that match 2-1 and this latest victory has put them on the brink of reaching the knockout stages of the Champions League for a sixth successive season.
They dominated against the Ukrainians as a hat-trick from Gabriel Jesus, including a bizarre penalty, and goals from David Silva, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling gave City a 6-0 win, eclipsing their 5-0 away success against Steaua Bucharest in the first leg of a play-off tie in August 2016.
“After the first game against Lyon, we were then down against Hoffenheim, so the situation was so dangerous but since then we have got three wins and we still need more points to get to the next stage,” added Guardiola.
The Spaniard won the Champions League twice as a coach with Barcelona and is hoping to repeat that with City this year after taking them to the last 16 in 2016-17 and then the quarter-finals last season.
How the goals went in
City captain Silva opened the scoring with a tap-in after Mahrez had twisted to create space for a low cross before the hosts doubled their lead in strange circumstances.
Sterling fell over as he kicked the ground under no challenge and referee Viktor Kassai wrongly awarded the penalty, which Jesus converted for the first of his three goals. There was no doubt about City’s third goal as Sterling ran at the visiting defence and curled a shot past goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov from the edge of the penalty area.
Kassai did get one penalty decision correct as Silva was clumsily brought down by Taras Stepanenko before Jesus scored his second penalty of the evening to make it 4-0. Mahrez then did well to control a pass from Ilkay Gundogan on his chest and shooting past Pyatov for City’s fifth goal, before Jesus sealed his hat-trick from Mahrez’s pass.
That looked to have been enough to take City into the knockout stages before Hoffenheim’s late equaliser cut the celebrations short.
A laughable penalty
The main talking point came in the 24th minute when Kassai – who refereed the 2011 Champions League final, in which Barcelona beat Manchester United 3-1 – stunned both City and Shakhtar by awarding a penalty.
England international Sterling had raced into the area and was a few yards clear of Shakhtar defender Mykola Matviyenko. As goalkeeper Pyatov came off his line to narrow the angle, Sterling went to shoot but kicked the ground and tumbled over.
Sterling did not appeal for a penalty and Pyatov started laughing when he saw it had been given. City boss Pep Guardiola appeared to tell the fourth official that it was the wrong decision.
Speaking to BT Sport about the penalty incident, Sterling told BT Sport: “I went to chip the ball and don’t know what happened. I didn’t feel contact. I scuffed the ball. Apologies to the ref.”
Guardiola suggested that a video assistant referee – not yet used in Champions League games – would have helped, adding: “We realised it wasn’t a penalty. We don’t like to score in that situation.
“You know VAR and what it is – the referee must be helped because they don’t want to make mistakes. The game is so fast these days. It takes 10 seconds for somebody to say something to the referee.”
Jesus converted the spot-kick – his first goal in seven club appearances – to end the game as a contest and from then on it became a question of just how many they would score.
The Premier League leaders won 3-0 away against Shakhtar on 23 October and they doubled that score against opponents they completely outclassed.
City able to rest players before Manchester derby
City face a Premier League home derby against Manchester United on Sunday and Guardiola, with that on his mind, left Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sane on the bench, with Vincent Kompany and Benjamin Mendy not in the squad at all. Guardiola was also able to take off goalscorer Silva, Kyle Walker and Fernandinho and give Danilo, Gundogan and Fabian Delph some much needed game time.
City are two points clear at the top of the Premier League as they look to retain their title, while United, who fought back from a goal down to beat Juventus 2-1 away from home in their Champions League match on Wednesday, are seventh domestically, nine points behind Guardiola’s side.
Penalty decision ‘ridiculous’ – what they said
Shakhtar coach Paulo Fonseca laughed when he was asked about the first penalty decision after Sterling had kicked the floor. “It is difficult to speak about a penalty after a result like that, but it’s ridiculous, that’s all I can say,” said Fonseca.
“Everyone saw it, but it is not because of the penalty we lost the game.”
Six goals again for City – the stats
- Manchester City have scored six (or more) goals in back-to-back games in all competitions for the first time since November 1987 when they followed up a 10-1 second-tier win over Huddersfield Town with a 6-2 win at Plymouth in the now-defunct Full Members Cup.
- City midfielder David Silva has scored three goals in the 2018-19 Champions League, his best tally in a single season in the competition. He has scored in three successive Champions League games for the first time.
- Gabriel Jesus is the first player to score two penalties in a Champions League game for an English club since Wayne Rooney did so for Manchester United against Otelul Galati in October 2011.
- Jesus is the third player to score a Champions League hat-trick for Manchester City after Alvaro Negredo and Sergio Aguero (twice).
- Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez has had a hand in seven goals his six starts at home in the Champions League (three goals, four assists).
- This 6-0 victory ended a run of three consecutive Champions League defeats for Manchester City at the Etihad, and was their biggest ever win in any European competition in their history.
Source: BBC News