City swatted aside the challenge of Shakhtar Donetsk with a superb performance that had a bit of everything. Devastating counter-attacks, creativity in abundance, defensive steel and clinical finishing – it was one of the Blues best Champions League performances yet with the Ukrainian champions well-beaten on their own turf. It is a display that will have delighted Pep Guardiola with goals from David Silva, Aymeric Laporte and Bernardo completing a comprehensive 3-0 win in Kharkiv.
What happened? City’s fluid movement in the opening stages left Shakhtar chasing shadows. David Silva hit the top of the crossbar after just three minutes with a clever overhead attempt and the returning Kevin De Bruyne went close not long after with a curling low effort. Some of the approach play was mesmeric – the Blues were irrepressible and, at times, unstoppable, but the hosts managed to just about weather the storm. Midway through the first-half Riyad Mahrez had two golden opportunities to put the Blues ahead in the pace of 60 seconds – first after a light-speed counter-attack where he screwed the ball wide from 15 yards, and then again after Benjamin Mendy’s fine cross found the Algerian free in the box – but his shot was blocked by a defender. The onslaught continued. Mahrez again showed how devastating his crosses can be when he picked out Silva’s run towards goal and the Spaniard’s improvised flick again struck the woodwork – this time the post. The dam had to break sooner or later, and in the next attack, it did. Mendy collected the ball and picked out Gabriel Jesus who saw his effort blocked, but as the ball looped up, Silva planted a left-foot volley home from seven yards to put City ahead – a thoroughly deserved lead, too. Five minutes later and the Blues had doubled the lead as De Bruyne’s corner was planted home by Aymeric Laporte who controlled a difficult header superbly past the Shakhtar keeper. The hosts improved after the break, but City went close twice through Silva and Mahrez before Fernando forced a good save from Ederson on 52 minutes. The next major talking point was the Blues’ third goal on 70 minutes. Sub Bernardo Silva played a one-two with Mahrez before darting towards goal and as Jesus created space for the Portuguese, he struck a low shot in off the post to end the contest – he’d only been on the pitch a couple of minutes. That was that - an excellent, all-round display for the Blues. City looking ominously good Pep Guardiola’s assessment that the Blues aren’t good enough yet to win the Champions League may have to be reassessed if City play like they did this evening throughout the competition. The Premier League champions were scintillating and had the score been 0-5 at the break, it would have been fully merited. Remember, this was a Shakhtar side never beaten on home soil by an English side until tonight – and that record was well and truly shattered by a rampant, quite brilliant Manchester City team who, on this evidence, will fear nobody.
Star man: David Silva Effortless grace from a player who truly is a magician. Looking like this could be his best season yet – imagine that!
What it means… City move on to six points in Group F after back-to-back away wins against Shakhtar and Hoffenheim - and to the top of the table after Lyon's 3-3 draw in Germany. The return game against Shakhtar is two weeks on Wednesday (7 November, 8pm).
What’s next? City travel to Wembley next Monday evening to face Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League. Following that, it’s Fulham in the Carabao Cup and then Southampton, once again in the Premier League.
Shakhtar Donetsk (0): Pyatov, Matviienko, Kryvtsov, Rakits’kyy, Ismaily, Maycon, Stepanenko, Wellington Nem (Bolbat, m.69), Kovalenko (Patrick, m.62), Fernando (Dentinho, m.84) y Junior Moraes
Manchester City (3): Ederson, Stones (Walker, m.80), Otamendi, Laporte, Mendy, Fernandinho, De Bruyne (Bernardo Silva, m.69), Silva, Mahrez, Sterling y Gabriel Jesus (Foden, m.88)