Manchester City has already killed all the suspense. A widely favorite in the Round of 16 against Sporting Portugal, the Premier League leaders seem to have already validated their ticket to the quarter-finals by winning largely in the Portuguese champions’ garden (0-5). After the early opener of Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, with a double, Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling found the loophole to allow the Sky Blues to quietly approach the second leg, on 9 March.
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Sporting fans ended the match as if they had won, screaming and wrapping their scarves to amplify an evening that nonetheless turned into a nightmare for their team. This lesson in the love of the shirt is the only reason to smile on the Portuguese side, on Tuesday evening, after a ceremony presented by the finalist of the last edition of C1. Returning to the Round of 16 after 13 years, the Lions quickly rained down, despite a spirited start to the game.
The city, a historical evening
In one of the many high-profile group events on the evening of Pep Guardiola’s players, Riyad Mahrez, whose goal was disallowed for offside, the VAR (0-1, 9) testified. Very quickly, Pablo Sarabia’s partners faced the collective control of the Citizens, and they took a wonderful and powerful shot from Bernardo Silva in a corner kick (0-2, 17). Then Ruben Amorim’s team continued to sink, unable to worry Ederson, either out of folly or because of the exemplary Manconian investment in defence.
With no shots on target at the final whistle, Sporting did not have a chance to revive, and watched Phil Foden take advantage of good work from Mahrez on the right side to score in turn from close range (0-3, 32 e). Then just before the break, Silva went there by doubling his bid from Sterling (0-4, 44th place). If Pep Guardiola, oddly enough, has spent the first act in front of the bench to harass his players, he has seen his squad write C1 history, by becoming the first visiting team to command the same amount in the break during a knockout match.
This was not enough to dampen the attacking enthusiasm of the English squad. Silva, who trained at Benfica, believed he had given himself a hat-trick against rival Lisbon (50th), but the VAR rejected his goal. Finally it was Raheem Sterling, with a superb shot into the right corner from Adan, who closed the mark (0-5, 58). Then, the Manconianans were able to train until the final whistle and prepare for their clash against Tottenham this weekend. Bayern Munich already crushed in 2009 (12-1 on aggregate), Sporting will try to limit the break in the second leg.
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