Match Report

City thrash Copenhagen to move closer to Champions League knockouts

MAIN MAN: The players rush to celebrate with Haaland.
Champions League
Champions League
Wed 5 Oct
5
0
Erling Haaland 
(7', 32'),  

Davit Khocholava 
(39'),  

Riyad Mahrez 
(55'),  

Julián Álvarez 
(76')

An Erling Haaland brace led City to a 5-0 Champions League victory over FC Copenhagen at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

The Norwegian’s fourth and fifth strikes in the competition for City put the Blues well on track early on before an own goal from Copenhagen defender David Khocholava had us three goals to the good at half-time.

A Riyad Mahrez penalty on the Algerian’s 200th City appearance extended the lead before Julian Alvarez completed the scoring for the Blues deep in the second half.

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The result gives us our third win in three Group G matches and leaves us all but one point from the knockout stages.

Story of the match

Before the football, the night began with an impressive light show and then a moment’s silence for the victims of the recent incident in Indonesia.

Kick off came and City settled into almost uninterrupted possession, working the deep-lying Danish champions from side to side.

Joao Cancelo had our first shot of the night inside five minutes, dragging wide from 20 yards.

However, it was from the Portuguese international’s preferred role as a creative force that the first goal of the night arrived, sliding a pass to Haaland who swept home with his right foot from around 12 yards.

The Norwegian’s latest strike had the bumper Etihad crowd hoping for a fourth consecutive home hat-trick for our No.9.

That was Cancelo’s seventh assist in the Champions League since the start of 2021/22. Along with his two goals in that time, he has more goal involvements than any other defender.

City were straight back on the front foot and a neat move in the 12th minute could have resulted in a second but Bernardo Silva’s drilled strike came back off the post.

Haaland had his second major chance of the evening in the 17th minute, rising high above the defence, but his header fell softly into the hands of goalkeeper Kamil Grabara.

Midway through the half came the striker’s third opening, working a yard of space and hammering a shot that Grabara palmed over the top of his goal.

Jack Grealish was the next to test the Polish goalkeeper, moving in from his left wing position and hitting a strike that could only be tipped over.

The resulting corner was played to Sergio Gomez, who hit a volley from the edge of the box that could only be parried to the feet of Haaland. The Norwegian made no mistake, tapping into the empty net.

Our third came a few minutes before the break and Gomez was at the heart of things again. This time his low shot took two deflections with the second, from David Khocholava, enough to divert the ball home.

Haaland’s hopes of a fourth hat-trick in four home matches were dashed when he was replaced by Cole Palmer at half-time, who was straight into the action with a curling effort that was well saved.

Mahrez made it four in the 54th minute with a coolly executed penalty after Aymeric Laporte was wrestled to the floor while competing for a corner.

With the points safe, a flurry of substitutions came in the second half - including Champions League debuts for teenage full-backs Rico Lewis and Josh Wilson-Esbrand.

There was also plenty of time for a fifth thanks to the work of Grealish and Mahrez, with the latter drilling a cross that Alvarez couldn’t fail to turn home.

Grealish was central to everything in the second half and could have had a goal himself in the last 10 minutes, but his side-footed volley from 18 yards ended up millimetres wide.

Fittingly, it was Gomez who had the last action on the night - seeing his volley sent over by Grabara before the final whistle was sounded.

Teams

CITY XI: Ederson, Cancelo (Lewis 57), Dias, Laporte, Gomez, Gundogan, Bernardo (Wilson-Esbrand 66), Grealish, Mahrez, Alvarez, Haaland (Palmer 45)

Subs: Ortega Moreno, Carson, Ake, Rodrigo, De Bruyne, Akanji, Foden

FC Copenhagen: Grabara, Diks (Ankersen 66), Vavro, Khocholava, Claesson (Mukairu 66), Johannesson, Lerager (Sorensen 79), Daramy (Haraldsson 55), Karamoko (Lund 45), Kristiansen, Stamenic

Subs: Johnsson, Ryan, Babacar, Cornelius, Jelert, Roony

Man of the Match

Sergio Gomez. The Spanish left-back impressed in the high pressure of a Manchester derby on Sunday and continued in that vein here, playing a vital role in two of City’s goals.

His sweet volley from the edge of the box was parried straight to the feet of Haaland for City’s second on the night, before a low shot was diverted in via two deflections.

His position changed slightly in the second half with the introduction of Wilson-Esbrand but Gomez took the move into midfield in his stride.

He will have gained a lot of confidence from the last few days, and with more time with the Club’s coaches it’s easy to see the 22-year-old having a real impact on our hopes across all competitions this season.

Pep Guardiola reaction

"Today I put the best selection to win the game because we need the best players for this tight schedule. Of course, it's always an excellent result. I know people talk about Copenhagen but they defend really well.

"I saw it, we feel it. The way we played, the movements and positions without the ball, but especially with the ball. Today we see the reasons why the last years have been successful for this club. After United we were able to be humble enough to respect the opponent.

"This is the secret of this game. It was the work ethic. Yesterday we trained for 20 minutes and everyone was focused and paid attention. This is the reason why this season and seasons before with different players.

"Every three days we are there, this is the biggest title we can get. Beyond the Premier League, Champions League… everything. This is the best."

Extraordinary Erling

Erling Haaland’s run of Etihad Stadium hat-tricks may have come to an end tonight, but his electric form in front of goal continued.

The Norwegian is the only player to have scored more than 20 goals in the Champions League to have done so at a rate of more than one every match.

Having featured just 22 times in this competition, he now has 28 Champions League goals – one more than Luis Suarez and one fewer than Patrick Kluivert, Roy Makaay and David Trezeguet.

What it means

We’re leading the way in Group G having taken all nine points from our first three matches in the tournament this season.

Borussia Dortmund's win over Sevilla means we effectively require just one point from our final three group matches to reach the last 16.

Unlike the Premier League, sides on equal points are separated by goal difference just between the teams in question. That means City would need just one more point and to avoid heavier defeats against Copenhagen and Sevilla than those that we have inflicted on them.

While the top two in each group go through, Guardiola will be eyeing top spot and a favourable draw against the runners up in one of the other seven groups.

What’s next

We’re back in Premier League action on Saturday afternoon when Southampton are the visitors to the Etihad Stadium. We’ll be looking to make it three wins from three consecutive home matches in just six days.

Our next UEFA Champions League assignment is the reverse of tonight’s fixture, with Pep Guardiola’s side in action at the Parken Stadium at 17:45 next Tuesday evening.

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