Match Report

Sporting stalemate sends City into Champions League last eight

Sporting stalemate sends City into Champions League last eight
Champions League
Champions League
Wed 9 Mar
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Manchester City eased into the quarter-finals of the Champions League after closing out our last 16 tie against Sporting with a goalless draw in the second leg.

A professional job was all that was required of Pep Guardiola’s men following our devastatingly clinical display in Lisbon three weeks ago and we duly delivered at the Etihad Stadium to progress to the last eight with a 5-0 aggregate victory.

The hosts were in complete control throughout what proved to be a low-key contest, with Gabriel Jesus’ disallowed goal the closest either side came to scoring.

VAR ruled the Brazilian to be offside as he collected Riyad Mahrez’s pass and drilled inside Antonio Adan’s near post, but with stubborn Sporting determined not to be outclassed again, chances were at a premium at both ends of the pitch.

It took until the 25th minute for either side to force the goalkeepers into a save, with Phil Foden calling Adan into action with a 20-yard drive that deflected off Sebastian Coates.


                        Sporting stalemate sends City into Champions League last eight

Foden provided the one moment of real quality as he split the visiting defence with a first-time pass around the corner for Sterling, whose attempted chip was blocked by the strong left hand of Adan.

Ederson was a spectator for much of the contest, waiting until the 57th minute to make his first save from Bruno Tabata’s deflected effort before comfortably gathering Marcus Edwards’ tame drive.

They were the only saves the Brazilian had to make, with Scott Carson sent on for the final 17 minutes for his first appearance in the competition for 16 years and the third-choice goalkeeper made a crucial contribution as he spread himself to deny Paulinho from point-blank range.

Islam Slimani forced John Stones to hook the ball away from the goalline as Sporting chased a consolation, but City were professional until the end, with Stones going close with a header, before Sterling dragged a golden opportunity into the side netting.


                        Sporting stalemate sends City into Champions League last eight

Job done

Guardiola had called for focus from his players ahead of this game, declaring it their duty to put in a suitable performance despite the aggregate scoreline making the second leg feel like nothing more than a formality.

In that sense, City delivered. It was a display which missed the trademark attacking intensity which so many teams struggle to live with, but with 69% possession, it was a contest we controlled. 

But for a couple of late chances, the Premier League leaders were rarely troubled by Sporting and, crucially for Guardiola, the players came through the contest unscathed.

With Nathan Ake and Ruben Dias out injured, and Joao Cancelo ill, the last thing the manager will have wanted as we approach the business end of the season was further injuries from such a one-sided tie. 

This wasn't City at our free-flowing best, but we did what we need to do to reach  the last eight with relative ease.


                        Sporting stalemate sends City into Champions League last eight

Teenage dreams

It was another proud night for City’s Academy as three youngsters made their Champions League debut.

CJ Egan-Riley completed 90 minutes at right-back, whilst James McAtee was introduced at half-time and Luke Mbete made a brief cameo in the final 10 minutes.

Nineteen-year-old Egan-Riley - afforded a start in the absence of Cancelo and the suspended Kyle Walker - has been at the Club for more than a decade and delivered an assured performance.

He moved inside to add an extra body in midfield when the opportunity presented itself and remained alert to Sporting’s threat on the break as he marshalled both centre-forward Paulinho and Mattheus Nunes at wing-back.

McAtee showed flashes of his exceptional technical ability, including a neat backheel to set up Jesus and was a willing runner in midfield.

Playing in Europe's premier club cup competition, it was a valuable experience for all three youngsters and, crucially, they all looked comfortable in senior surroundings.


                        Sporting stalemate sends City into Champions League last eight

Pep Guardiola reaction

"The first half was better than the second. I think after the goal was disallowed we were not as active. We didn’t make movements. It’s not easy because after this [first leg] result it was already over.

"We should have played the second half like we did in the last four minutes. We didn’t do it, but it’s not easy after 5-0."

Man of the Match: Gabriel Jesus

It was a typically tireless performance from the Brazilian, who was one of City's brightest attacking options down both the right and left flank.

He saw claims for a penalty waved away in the opening 10 minutes after Manuel Ugarte barged him to the floor and forced a decent save from Adan after the break.

The 24-year-old also offered young full-back Egan-Riley plenty of defensive support against the Sporting counter-attack, setting the tone for the manner of performance Guardiola had called for before kick-off.


                        Sporting stalemate sends City into Champions League last eight

Stat Zone

This was Fernandinho’s 100th appearance in the Champions League since his debut for Shakhtar Donetsk in September 2006. He is just the fourth Brazilian to reach the tally, behind the full-back trio of Dani Alves, Roberto Carlos and Marcelo.

It is 16 years and 338 days since Carson played for Liverpool against Juventus in what is his only other Champions League appearance, which is the largest gap between appearances for any player in the competition's history.

What it means

City progress to the quarter-finals for the fifth consecutive season and will discover our last eight opponents on Friday 18 March, when the draw takes place at UEFA’s headquarters in Switzerland.

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TEAMS

CITY: Ederson (Carson 73'), Egan-Riley, Stones, Laporte (Mbete 84'), Zinchenko, Fernandinho (C), Gundogan, Bernardo (Mahrez  46'), Jesus, Foden (McAtee 46'), Sterling.

SUBS: Slicker, Grealish, Rodrigo, De Bruyne, Kayky, Delap, Edozie.

SPORTING: Adan, Goncalo Inacio, Coates (C), Luis Neto (Feddal 89'), Pedro Porro (Esgaio 78'), Ugarte, Bruno Tabata, Matheus Reis, Sarabia (Edwards 58'), Paulinho (Nuno Santos 78'), Slimani (Ribeiro 89').

SUBS: Paulo, Virginia, Vinagre, Essugo, Veiga.

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