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City stroll to Basel victory

Manchester City took a commanding lead in their Round of 16 knockout tie against FC Basel thanks to a 4-0 win in Switzerland.

A period of three goals in nine minutes from Gündoğan, Bernardo Silva and Sergio Agüero put Basel out of sight before Gündoğan doubled his tally in the 53rd minute.

Wary of Manchester United’s struggles here earlier in the season, Pep Guardiola named a very strong eleven despite being overwhelming favourites. Vincent Kompany made his first Champions League start since May 2016 while Leroy Sané returned to the bench.

Despite City’s perceived superiority, it was the home side who had the first chance of the game just after the five-minute mark. Blás Riveros sent a searching ball upfield and Dimitri Oberlin was the quickest to react.

City defender Niciolás Otamendi could not handle the pace of the Basel striker and Ederson struggled to make up the ground in time. In the end, Oberlin hit a tame effort round Ederson but it was swept up by Otamendi.

Shortly after, Basel were punished for their failure to take their chance. An in-swinging corner from Kevin De Bruyne was met by Gündoğan whose clever run had given him a few yards of space from the defender.

The German powered his header into the net to give City the first goal of the tie in the 16th minute.

Minutes later and the ruthlessness nature of this City team was there for all to see. De Bruyne was again involved as he played Raheem Sterling in behind the Basel defence.

The Englishman crossed the ball but a Basel defender managed to get a head to it. The attempted clearance could only find Silva though who fired a volley goalwards.

Basel keeper Tomás Vaclik did manage to get a hand to it but was not strong enough and palmed it into the net to double City’s advantage.

A visibly shellshocked Basel only found their evening getting worse in the 23rd minute. In-form Agüero collected a loose ball and without any hesitation shot from range towards the bottom left corner.

Vaclik could only stand and watch as the pinpoint strike found the net and put this tie beyond Basel.

The pick of the goals was City’s fourth. After the half time break, it was much the same story with City continuing to press home their advantage.

In the 54th minute, Gündoğan moved the ball past the defender before curling an effort into the top right corner. This time the keeper did dive but he was just as helpless as the Agüero effort and Gündoğan got a deserved second.

The final half hour of the game was more about energy conservation. With the game won and presumably the tie as a whole with it, Guardiola had the luxury of resting some key players.

De Bruyne and Sterling left the field while there was a welcome return for Leroy Sané just 16 days after suffering damage to his ankle ligaments against Cardiff City.

The game finished 4-0 to the visitors and barring a Basel miracle at the Etihad in three weeks time, City’s place in the quarter-finals is all but ensured.

Tags: Manchester City Football Club, UEFA Champions League

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