Manchester City underlined their status as Champions League favourites with a ruthless 5-0 thrashing of Sporting Lisbon to effectively book their place in the quarterfinals.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) February 15, 2022
City, runner-up last season, blew Sporting away with a rampant first-half display at the Jose Alvalade Stadium as they became the first side in the competition’s history to lead by four goals at the halfway point of a Champions League knockout game.
The rout began when Riyad Mahrez turned home a Kevin De Bruyne cut-back (7), with VAR overturning the initial decision to rule the goal out for offside following a lengthy check.
Bernardo Silva, one of four players in the City team to have previously played for Sporting’s bitter rivals Benfica, then doubled their lead with a stunning half-volleyed finish which crashed into the net off the underside of the bar following a corner (17).
Superb performance from the whole squad tonight ?? pic.twitter.com/XQKG1iSY2Y
— Riyad Mahrez (@Mahrez22) February 15, 2022
The hosts, in the last 16 of the Champions League for only the second time in their history, could not get to grips with City’s speed and movement and the punishment continued when poor defending allowed Phil Foden to fire home from Mahrez’s low cross (32).
Silva then scored his second as Sporting left him unmarked to fire past beleaguered goalkeeper Antonio Adan with the help of a deflection after a Sterling lay-off (44).
Silva was denied a hat-trick by VAR just a few minutes after half-time when he nodded home De Bruyne’s diagonal cross from close-range, only for replays to show he was in an offside position.
Pep Guardiola: "Bernardo Silva doesn't just play football – he understands football. There are players that play good with the ball but he understands every action like few in the world", he told @spbajko. ? #MCFC #UCL pic.twitter.com/jQBPtspOo5
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) February 16, 2022
There was no let-up from City, however, with Sterling adding a stunning fifth not long afterwards when he cut inside and curled a brilliant effort into the top corner from outside the box (58).
Only then did Pep Guardiola take the opportunity to rest some of his players, with Foden, John Stones and Rodri making way for Ilkay Gundogan, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Fernandinho. There were also late cameos from Nathan Ake and Liam Delap.
By that point, the contest had been reduced to a training exercise, with Sporting unable to even muster a shot on target over the course of the 90 minutes as the visitors continued to seek openings.
And so Manchester City’s quest for Champions League glory continues. On this evidence they will take some stopping.
Courtesy: Sky Sports