Manchester City send out message to Champions League rivals with crushing win over Schalke

Manchester City 7-0 Schalke (10-2 agg): Sergio Aguero scored twice to start of a drubbing of the Bundesliga side

Mark Critchley
Etihad Stadium
@mjcritchley
Tuesday 12 March 2019 22:55
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Sergio Aguero celebrates after setting City on their way
Sergio Aguero celebrates after setting City on their way

Pep Guardiola has described his Manchester City side as Champions League “teenagers” but this European campaign could yet see them write their coming-of-age story.

Other clubs in Friday’s quarter-final draw may have longer and more illustrious histories in this competition but, on the evidence of this emphatic 7-0 win over Schalke 04, few have the sheer quality that City possess.

Admittedly, Schalke are no great shakes. Domenico Tedesco’s side have now lost seven of their last nine games and occupy a precarious position domestically, just a few places above the Bundesliga’s relegation zone.

But this was still the side which led a 10-man City 2-1 with five minutes remaining in the first leg. Even though Guardiola’s men would eventually win that first leg 3-2, there was still a job to finish in this return at the Etihad.

But unlike in Madrid or in Paris, there would be no comeback against the odds. A first-half Sergio Aguero brace and then a goal apiece for Leroy Sané, Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and Gabriel Jesus allowed City to book their place in the last eight with ease.

For those who struggle with their arithmatic, the aggregate score finished 10-2. On this basis, there will be few opponents in the quarter-finals who would fancy themselves against City and few who City themselves will feel in any way intimidated by.

Guardiola suggested on Monday that City’s supporters were beginning to warm towards the Champions League as a competition after years of protest against organisers Uefa, but the boos for the pre-match anthem rang around the Eithad louder than ever.

That was perhaps to be expected, less than a week after European football’s governing body opened an investigation into City’s compliance with Financial Fair Play.

If found guilty, City are likely to be severely punished and potentially banned from next season’s competition. All the more reason, then, to go all the way this year.

But City did not start with their usual fluency. In an oddly sedate opening half-hour, Guardiola’s side dominated but only threatened the once when Aguero, at close range, turned Raheem Sterling’s low cross against the outside of the post and wide.

Schalke stayed in the game until the final 10 minutes of the first half, at which point they quickly collapsed. City were three up by the break.

The first came from the penalty spot, with Aguero converting a ‘Panenka’ after Bernardo Silva had been hauled down by Jeffrey Bruma. Two minutes later, Aguero had another, latching onto Sterling’s back-heel inside the box and finishing through goalkeeper Ralf Fahrmann’s legs.

And despite a lengthy VAR check following the second goal, which eventually confirmed Sterling was not offside in the build-up, there was still time for another before the interval.

Like in the first leg, Sané came back to bite the club that reared him, sliding a composed finish past Fahrmann after being slipped in by Oleksandr Zinchenko.

Sané believed he had scored his second of the night not long after the two teams re-emerged but, having rounded Fahrmann and finished into an empty net, he was correctly judged to be offside, with the assistant’s decision confirmed by VAR.

The third video referral of the night would follow a minute later but this one would end favourably for City. Sterling was initially flagged offside after dispatching Sané’s devilish cross into the top left-hand corner but the decision was overturned and Guardiola’s side had their fourth.

Guardiola was now comfortable enough to change things around. Aguero and captain David Silva were replaced by Jesus and Foden. By the time Fabian Delph could enter the fray, City had five.

Sané was central to it again. The Schalke old boy found space for Zinchenko to pass into down the left and then, upon receiving possession, picked out Bernardo as he arrived late into the box. A sweeping, first-time finish was placed just out of Fahrmann’s reach.

The Etihad crowd could have been forgiven for being blasé about any further goals but their biggest cheer of the evening was saved for Foden. The prodigy’s sixth senior goal came when he latched onto Sané’s neat pass in behind, rounded Fahrmann and applied the finish.

The Schalke goalkeeper was not covering himself in glory but he will be most disappointed about the preventable seventh. Jesus’ strike from the edge of the area was not approaching him at pace but he mis-timed his dive, allowing the ball to slip underneath him.

As soon as the 90 minutes was up, referee Clement Turpin blew for full time. It was only mercy that Schalke were shown all night

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