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Guardiola questions answered in Shakhtar win?

VOLLEY GOOD SHOW: David Silva causes panic in the Shakhtar ranks with this effort on goal

VOLLEY GOOD SHOW: David Silva causes panic in the Shakhtar ranks with this effort on goal

Manchester City produced a superb display to beat Shakhtar Donetsk 3-0 on Tuesday. Club journalist Rob Pollard has taken a look back at a memorable night in Ukraine.

1Mesmerising City

"Our first half was the best we have played in the last three seasons, since I've been here. We were outstanding - we created a lot of chances."

Pep Guardiola was unequivocal when praising his players last night. For him, the first-half display, in which City managed 14 efforts on goal and completely dominated Shakhtar, was the most complete he’d seen since becoming Blues boss in the summer of 2016.

Indeed, the Shakhtar players looked thoroughly beaten as they left the field at half-time 2-0 down. They had been run ragged by a rampant City side, orchestrated beautifully by man-of-the-match David Silva.

Even in the second half, when the intensity in City’s game reduced somewhat, Shakhtar were restricted to just a few half chances as City hit the woodwork twice and scored a fine third thanks to substitute Bernardo Silva. It was a superb performance. 

Games in the Champions League aren’t supposed to be this one-sided. City, sharper and more inventive than their opponents, overran the Ukrainians. We continually pressed them out of their stride and produced magic in possession. The only downside was we didn’t score more.

City, the first English team to beat Shakhtar in Ukraine, were thoroughly deserved winners.

READ: Match Report | Shakhtar 0-3 City

READ: David Silva | We are improving every game

2City have what it takes

In his pre-match press conference, Guardiola questioned his side’s ability to win the Champions League. "In this competition you need something special, and still I don't feel it,” he said, rather pointedly, as if looking for a reaction from his players.

If that was his intention, he certainly got it in Kharkiv.

Few sides in Europe can match City’s pace, intensity and attacking quality. We’ve also conceded just one goal in our last seven matches in all competitions, evidence of our improving defensive qualities.

On the evidence of recent weeks, we have a real chance of going further than we've ever managed in Europe's elite knock-out competition. 

SUDDEN IMPACT: Bernardo Silva celebrates after scoring less than a minute after coming on as a substitute

Highlights

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Shakhtar Donetsk 0 City 3: Match highlights

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3Evergreen Silva

The performance of David Silva, 32, was the pick of the bunch for City.

He scored the opener (having hit the bar with a moment of improvised brilliance in the opening few minutes), before dictating proceedings with his skill, vision and passing quality. City, as is so often the case, were dancing to his tune.

He now has now been involved in 15 Champions League goals for City (seven goals and eight assists) and continues to maintain his position as the main creative hub in this talented City side.

4Laporte's dream season continues

A quick word, too, on Aymeric Laporte, who continues to show his class. The only City player to play every minute in this season's Premier League and Champions League campaigns, it's easy to see why he has become indispensable to Guardiola. 

His left-foot not only brings balance to City's backline, it also offers the ability to switch play with devastating effect. He is quick, strong, outstanding in the air and loves a physical battle with a striker. He rarely makes last-ditch challenges, thanks to his reading of the game. 

Bringing him in last January was a masterstroke. It's allowed him time and space to adapt to a new league and new surroundings before hitting the ground running this term. As modern, ball-playing centre-halves go, there aren't many better. 

5Positive KDB return

This was Kevin De Bruyne’s first start since the opening game of the season at Arsenal having recovered from the knee injury he suffered in training back in August. 

After playing half an hour as a substitute in the 5-0 victory over Burnley on Saturday, his integration back into the side was accelerated in Ukraine. He played 69 valuable minutes, and for the majority of that time looked totally match sharp. He pressed and harried Shakhtar players whenever we lost the ball, and produced trademark moments of quality on the ball to remind everyone what we've been missing in his absence. 

It's a huge boost to have perhaps the most complete midfielder in English football back in contention. 

6Strength in depth

It’s been written on these pages a few times this season but it’s worth repeating again here: Guardiola has assembled a squad of players full of quality, with healthy options in every department.

One look at the bench in Kharkiv tells you everything you need to know. Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero, Kyle Walker, Leroy Sane and Bernardo Silva were supplemented by precocious talents of Phil Foden and Aro Muric. 

Few sides in Europe can match that, and if City can find the belief and consistency Pep craves in this competition, surely we have what it takes to win the competition. 

FERNA: Class act

Interviews

Video

Fernandinho: Strong start laid foundations

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Media Watch

Media Watch: Press purr over Silva-inspired win

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Silva: 'City are improving with every game'

JUST CHAMPION: David Silva celebrates his stunning goal with Benjamin Mendy

David Silva said he believed Manchester City are improving with every game after helping inspire a superb 3-0 Champions League win away at Shakhtar Donetsk.

Silva hails City's quality after hugely impressive Champions League win away at Shakhtar Donetsk