Raheem Sterling’s stunning 11-minute hat-trick in Tuesday's 5-1 victory over Atalanta left both press and pundits united in admiration for the 24-year-old, with the England star lauded as one of the ‘best five players in the world’.
There’s warm words too for the rest of Sterling’s teammates after what was our third consecutive Group C victory and there’s also praise from one City icon to a potential long-term Blues star of the future.
Kieran Jackson: "Rio Ferdinand described Raheem Sterling as one of the best 'five players in the world' following his devastating display against Atalanta in the Champions League.
"Sterling lit-up the Etihad Stadium with an 11-minute second-half hat-trick as City trounced their Serie A opponents 5-1 on Tuesday night - the forward also assisted both of Sergio Aguero's first-half strikes.
"After the game, former United defender Ferdinand couldn't speak highly enough of Sterling's development under Pep Guardiola, insisting he is the best player in the Premier League right now.
"‘He’s in the top five players in the world now, definitely,' Ferdinand told BT Sport.
"‘I don’t care who you want to mention, the five top players – he’s got to be in that conversation.
"‘Because the amount of goals he’s getting, the effect he’s having on games. It’s impossible to keep him out.'
"Asked whether he was the best player in the Premier League, Ferdinand responded: ‘I’d say yeah. I love everything about him.’ "
Goal.com – Sensational Sterling runs the show
“Having created the equaliser and played a crucial role in City's second, the former Liverpool player proved irresistible after the break, running Atalanta's defence ragged as he became the eighth English player to score a Champions League hat-trick.
“Manchester City's victory was the biggest for an English side against an Italian side in all European competitions since Manchester United's 4-0 win over AC Milan in 2010.”
The Guardian – Sterling inspires 10-man City
Richard Jolly: “Sterling epitomises Pep Guardiola’s perpetual quest for exponential improvement and this was another milestone in his development. “His treble was all the more notable as it came in 11 minutes, and he had also set up both of Sergio Agüero’s five-minute double. On the night, it was quite a turnaround Sterling instigated.
“Having trailed, City overwhelmed Atalanta to take a five-point lead at the summit of Group C. The knockout stages beckon.
“City capitalised as Atalanta attempted to man-mark across the pitch. They had no individual capable of halting Sterling. They remain pointless.
“Raheem was brilliant,” Pep Guardiola declared. “He is an incredible player for us.” It was high praise, but his perfectionism is rubbing off on his players. “Perfect night,” said Sterling. “But I should have had four.” He rued the moment when Phil Foden released him and he rolled a shot past the far post.
“Three sufficed to make him only the eighth Englishman to score a Champions League hat-trick. All of the other seven are strikers by trade and Sterling’s treble came from the left flank, each showing his capacity to cut infield.”
Manchester Evening News – City give Pep the perfect answer
“But the Blues ’ 5-1 win gave the perfect answer to a manager who had questioned whether they were deadly enough in front of goal to really make a dent in this season’s Champions League .
“That means they now need a victory in the return game in Milan in a fortnight to secure qualification for the knockout phase, with two games to spare.
“Guardiola had suggested that his team were not quite ready to win the Champions League, as they prepared for the group game against Serie A’s third-placed team.
“Pep’s point was simply saying that so far this season they have not been lethal enough in the opposition box, and a touch too generous in their own.
“And, while they gifted the visitors a penalty which brought a shock lead, City subsequently showed they have plenty of firepower at the other end.”
metro.co.uk – Foden the ‘obvious successor’ to Silva, says Hart
WATCH: Inside City | Episode 358
"With David Silva set to leave the club at the end of the season, former City goalkeeper Hart sees that as the time to Foden to step into the Spaniard’s boots, with no need for him to look for first team football elsewhere in the meantime.
"‘He doesn’t need to go out and have a season somewhere else and play some sort of different system. They believe in this guy and the players he’ll be around.