There was a thrilling encounter going on at Anfield. At Milan, Real Madrid were experiencing the intensity of Inter. Paris Saint-Germain were experiencing that spending big money does not matter if you don’t realize what football is all about. Erling Haaland was doing his usual job. And, at Etihad, Manchester City joined the festival of goals to add extra spice to the night of Champions League – Don’t you dare to sleep at all!

Manchester City got off to a winning start in their Champions League group stage opener against RB Leipzig at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday, defeating the German side 6-3 in a thriller at the Etihad Stadium.

Following last year’s disappointment at losing in the final of the competition, Pep Guardiola’s side were eager to begin confidently, which was exactly what they did.

An initial foray had Kevin de Bruyne and Ferran Torres interlinking before the De Bruynes cross was gathered by Peter Gulacsi, who matched the pace of City’s nucleus of thought in an instant return pass that took De Bruyne by surprise and boded well for City.

So, too, was Jack Grealish’s opening contribution as a Champions League debutant, the reverse flip into Torres oozing guile that had the number 21 racing clear before being flagged offside.

Leipzig were already in a wrestle for decent ball and territory.

A Dani Olmo ballooned shot was the best they could conjure, as City took the lead. This was presaged by a Riyad Mahrez ball floated over from the right.

It was cleared for a corner – by Nordi Mukiele – which Grealish pinged in and Aké rose to beat two defenders and Gulacsi with a powerhouse header.

Grealish’s next contributions were a corner and the drawing of a foul by an already frustrated Christopher Nkunku. A hapless Mukiele headed De Bruyne’s skidding delivery past Gulacsi for City’s second.

As the break neared Olmo was allowed to pass left, Emil Forsberg lifted the cross in, Mukiele headed back to Nkunku and he beat Ederson.

A Torres header hit Lukas Klostermann’s upper arm and after VAR ordered Serdar Gozubuyuk to consult the monitor the referee awarded the penalty. Mahrez smashed in for a 3-1 lead.

After the break, calamity nearly befell Gulacsi when careering along the turf as Torres bore down, the keeper finally managing to regain balance and save a weak shot.

Torres would soon rue this because by 50 minutes Nkunku had a second: in trying to make a tackle De Bruyne tripped over Gozubuyuk and thus Olmo could receive, then chip between Dias and Ake too easily, for Nkunku to score.

Grealish, after collecting on the left, a shoulder dip left Tyler Adams looking like a statue, before the wide man accelerated on and curled sweetly in to make it 4-2.

Leipzig pushed forward and Nkunku clinched a hat-trick, hammering in Yussuf Poulsen’s pass, to leave Guardiola despairing.

With Leipzig not giving up easily and with such a slender lead, the night at Etihad might start haunting Guardiola.

Two minutes later Joao Cancelo produced a piledriver and it was 5-3 and with five minutes remaining, Gabriel Jesus ensured that it would the night to remember for Manchester City.

“Leipzig never give up,” said Guardiola to BT Sport.

“They play all or nothing. You never had the feeling it’s over. We scored a few minutes after they scored [a few times] and it helped us a lot.”

But you never had the feeling it was over and that is a big compliment to their team. We scored minutes, just a few minutes, after they scored and that helped us a lot.

“They have a young team, so aggressive, so strong. A fantastic team. Leipzig give a good message to football.”

“We scored 16 goals in the last three games here. I’d like more people to come on Saturday. We will be tired. Southampton are so dangerous. I invite all our people to come 3pm to watch our game.”

Grealish also shared his thoughts on his first experience of playing in the Champions League.

“I loved it,” he said. I’ve been waiting a while. The past few weeks, I couldn’t wait for this game. It’s a great night.

“It was one of those games. It had absolutely everything. In the end we’re delighted to get the win against a good team full of energy and young players.”

“I’m delighted to come away with the three points – and the goal and assist.”

“The ball came to me and when I’m in that position, running into the area I’d back myself one on one against anyone to have a go and it paid off. I had a few in the first half that were blocked.

“I went to check the result from the other game [Club Bruges 1-1 PSG] and it shows anything can happen in the Champions League. It’s why it’s such a wonderful competition.”


“With the music and everything [before the game] it was so nice.”

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