Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini hailed his side’s dominant display after they qualified for the Champions League last 16 with an emphatic 3-1 win at Sevilla.
City produced one of their greatest European performances as they overpowered the Spaniards at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium to reach the knockout stages with two games to spare.
Raheem Sterling and Fernandinho struck inside the opening 11 minutes as City raced out of the blocks and Wilfried Bony made the result secure before half-time after Benoit Tremoulinas pulled one back.
“I’m very happy because I think we played a very complete game in all senses – physically and tactically, and we had good possession of the ball.
“We scored three goals and I think we missed at least four or five clear chances to score more.”
Pellegrini raised eyebrows by naming in-form Kevin De Bruyne as a substitute, but his decision to deploy Fernando in a deep role paid dividends almost immediately. Fernando’s presence allowed Fernandinho to step forward and impose himself from the outset and his outstanding performance was a key factor in the result.
“I was not happy in the way we were playing, so we needed a change. Today we changed the system and for that we made a very good game.
“It is important to be qualified two games before the end. Now we will still try to qualify in the first position of this group and if we continue playing in this way we will have more chances.”
The result was undoubtedly a landmark one in the progress of the club but Pellegrini was reluctant to label it as his best in the Champions League while in charge of City. He said:
“I don’t compare the games because I don’t think it’s fair. Last season when we played in Rome it was not easy. We needed to win away in Rome and we played very, very well. We qualified.
“Against Bayern Munich – an important, strong team – we lost two times and we won two times. I think it was a very good game but I’m happy because we returned in the style of play I like to see.”
On the performance of Fernandinho, he said:
“I allowed him and Yaya to go forward so they started more in the Sevilla half. I think Fernandinho is very dangerous because he has a lot of pace and he arrives in the other box. It was one of the reasons we dominated in the midfield because we had Fernandinho and Yaya both going forward and just Fernando staying back.
“He and Sterling had a very good performance, as did all the players.”
Sevilla’s defeat left them with just three points from four games but the draw between Borussia Monchengladbach and Juventus in the other Group D game means they still have a slim chance of qualifying.
Coach Unai Emery said:
“We have played against a fantastic team tonight. When we played there we played well against them and had a lot of chances, and I think we pushed them quite far.
“But their ability to come back was a lot stronger than ours. They were very fast and good at converting their opportunities. Once they scored the first two goals that nullified us. We had our moments but not enough.
“We knew City and Juventus were going to be the favourites in this group, but we know there is still a chance we can get through. The group is still open.”
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