It was a night of pride for the City Academy as graduates Micah Hamilton and Oscar Bobb along with Kalvin Phillips helped us to a 3-2 victory at Red Star Belgrade.

Hamilton’s thumping first-half strike gave us an interval lead at Rajko Mitic Stadium while Bobb doubled our advance after the break with a delicious finish.

Hwang In-beom pulled one back for the hosts only for Phillips to smash home a late penalty.

With the clock ticking down to full-time, Red Star scored again, Aleksandar Katai thumping in a header in stoppage time but City held on to finish Group G with a maximum 18 points.

Popular EDS winger Hamilton became the youngest player – at 20 years and 30 days - to score on his UCL debut for City, Bobb notched his first senior goal while Mahamadou Susoho made his debut on a night of true pride for staff at the CFA.

WHAT HAPPENED

Despite a much-changed side, with nine fresh players in the starting line-up, City started brightly, with Jack Grealish in particular lively in the opening exchanges.

The personnel was different. The style was exactly the same. Dominating possession. Treating the ball as a friend rather than a foe. And attacking the opponent with patience and persistence.

Our attacking intent was rewarded on 19 minutes – and what a moment for Micah Hamilton.

The winger, making his debut for the Blues, marked the occasion with a first senior goal and it was a stunner.

Grealish played an intricate reverse ball to Matheus Nunes, who played in the 20-year-old, marauding into the box from the right channel.

He let fly with a thumping drive that flew beautifully into Omri Glazer’s goal.

City continued to pressure the hosts, who had to be alert and alive to hold off the Blues, who were on the lookout for more.

Oscar Bobb tried to follow in the footsteps of fellow Academy graduate Hamilton with a drive from a central area on 31 minutes but it was well charged down by a resolute Red Star backline.

Nunes had his head in his hands on 33 minutes as he somehow blasted over a pinpoint cross from the left by Mateo Kovacic but the marauding midfielder was spared blushes by an offside flag that went up shortly afterwards.

Nunes, foraging forward at every opportunity, then tried to play in Bobb on 38 minutes but the young winger checked his run, ensuring the ball flew out.

On the stroke of half-time it was almost two – with Academy aces Hamilton and Bobb combining.

The former played a class ball into the danger zone from the right which the latter couldn’t quite connect to with the goal gaping.

There was a change at the start of the second half, Phil Foden replacing the enterprising Grealish, who appeared to have been in some discomfort due to an issue in his rib area.

Hamilton, moving to the left from the right after Grealish’s exit, was close to scoring his second on 48 minutes but his classy curled effort flew just wide of the post.

Nunes was in the wars moments later, landing awkwardly after attempting an extravagant overhead kick in the box. Thankfully, after a slight delay, he was fit enough to continue.

Red Star, very quiet up to this point in the game, burst into life on 50 minutes but Stefan Ortega Moreno produced two superb saves in a matter of seconds to keep us ahead – the first from point-blank range and the second from distance.

Bobb, bright and breezy in attack, got in on the scoring act just past the hour mark - and what a magnificent goal it was.

Charging down the right channel, the 20-year-old cut inside and saw a chink of an opening, cleverly curling the ball home, much to the merriment of the travelling faithful and his delighted teammates.

Serbian forward – and second half sub - Jovan Mijatovic was close to pulling one back on 70 minutes but his glancing shot struck the post, with Ortega Moreno beaten.

If first goals for Hamilton and Bobb weren’t exciting enough, there was further elation when Mahamadou Susoho entered the fray to make his senior debut for the Blues.

Moments later though, the hosts pulled a goal back, South Korean forward Hwang In-beom giving Ortega Moreno no chance in the City goal with a low finish.

Hamilton, a threat throughout the evening, earned us a penalty on 84 minutes after getting the better of Nasser Djiga, Kalvin Phillips stepping up to increase our lead.

With the clock ticking down to full-time, Red Star scored again, Aleksandar Katai thumping home a header in stoppage time.

It produced a nervier finish than we’d hoped for but we still held on comfortably for the maximum haul.

HAMILTON RECORD

Micah Hamilton’s opener against Red Star made him the youngster player to score on his Champions League debut for City.

The winger netted with a clinical finish in the final game of Group G at the age of 20 years and 30 days.

He eclipsed Gabriel Jesus who scored against Feyenoord in September 2017 at the age of 20 years and 162 days.

Ferran Torres is now third youngest at 20 years and 235 days after his goal against FC Porto in October 2020.

Hamilton is also the youngest English player to score on his Champions League debut since Marcus Rashford in 2017 for Manchester United, at 19 years and 316 days.

RECORD BREAKERS

The 3-2 victory helped us set a new record for most consecutive wins in the competition’s history by an English team.

It was also our eighth win in a row – six in this campaign and two last season – meaning we now top the table for successive victories.

Liverpool achieved seven up to February 2022 and City, ourselves, hit the same number up to May 2021 – but now we stand alone at the summit.

Manchester United (1966), Leeds United (1970) and Arsenal (2005) all achieved six victories in a row.

TEAMS

RED STAR XI: Glazer, Nedeljkovic (Kabic 78’), Djiga, Spajic (Rodic 65’), Dragovic, Kanga (Katai 57’), Mijailovic, Hwang In-beom, Bukari, Ndiaye (Mijatovic 57’), Olayinka (Lucic 57’)

Subs: Degenek, Stamenic, Krasso, Milunovic, Kangwa, Vasiljevic, Mitrovic

CITY XI: Ortega Moreno, Lewis, Stones (c) (Ake 86’), Akanji, Gomez, Phillips, Kovacic (Susoho 76’), Nunes (Bernardo 83’), Bobb, Grealish (Foden 46’), Hamilton

Subs: Carson, Grant, Walker, Dias, Rodrigo, Alvarez, Gvardiol, Alleyne

PLAYER OF THE MATCH

There were plenty of candidates for Player of the Match here in Belgrade – but Oscar Bobb gets our vote.

Bobb, also named UEFA star man on the evening, showed maturity beyond his years as he put in a stellar performance for Pep Guardiola’s men.

Not only was his display dynamic and determined, the 20-year-old also managed to score his first senior goal for City and what a beautiful effort it was, wonderfully curled into the corner of the net and sparking delighted scenes for the triumphant visitors.

PEP GUARDIOLA REACTION

On Micah Hamilton performance: “What a goal and what a game.

“I am so happy for him. He is training well and we saw his skills. He made a fantastic goal. Defensively he was aggressive.

“Congratulations to our Academy for how many players came up and how many we sell.

“We had Mo [Susoho]  as well, he played really well as well.”

BOBB REACTION

On his goal: “What a feeling.

“In front of our great fans and it was a pleasure. It was a very good atmosphere in the stadium.

“[It was] hostile, but we knew what we wanted to do as a team and in the end we got there.

“If I remember right, I think Rico intercepts, gets forward and gives me the ball. He makes a run [which] drags the defender with him.

“[I] cut outside and inside and just get it in the far corner. [I felt] relief, happiness, everything.”

WHAT IT MEANS

We will now await the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League Round of 16 draw.

It takes place at 11:00 (UK) this Monday at the House of European Football in Nyon, Switzerland.

City are a seeded team in the draw and, therefore, can’t be paired with another seeded side.

We can’t face another English team or RB Leipzig, who we faced in the group stage.

The Round of 16 is played over the course of four weeks, with first legs: 13/14/20/21 February 2024 and second legs: 5/6/12/13 March 2024.

WHAT’S NEXT

Focus now turns back to the Barclays Premier League.

We take on Crystal Palace at the Etihad this coming Saturday, with a 15:00 (UK) start.

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Pep Guardiola’s men are fourth in the table, four points behind Liverpool at the summit while Palace are 15th this season under Roy Hodgson, who’s in his second spell at his boyhood club.

The corresponding game in our Treble winning season was a cracker.

Erling Haaland scored a 19-minute second-half hat-trick as we fought back from two goals down to claim an enthralling victory over the Eagles.

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