In a game that was not exactly first on the marquee, Manchester City took care of business in Ukraine against Shakhtar Donetsk. After a first half which featured some lovely football, Manchester City took their pedal off the gas in the second. It allowed the Ukrainians to give them some testing but in the end it was City who prevailed.
Aymeric Laporte Shines in City’s 3-0 Win in Ukraine
The First Half
Game settling into an expected pattern of Manchester City possession and Shakhtar defending heavily in two banks for four with two players up top. By the twentieth minute City have had 85% possession and three shots on goal. To Shakhtar’s credit they did start to get a bit more of the ball in the next ten minutes but still the best chance of that period belonged to David Silva who hit the post with a lovely finish.
Finally in the 30’ minute after a blocked shot from Gabriel Jesus bounced into the air, David Silva was there to pounce. The ball fell to his favored left foot and smashed it across the face of goal into the bottom right corner. And from there we all were within our rights to expect the goals to start flying in.
Five minutes after David Silva’s opener a fantastic shot by Benjamin Mendy earned City a corner. De Bruyne’s ensuing corner was headed home by an unmarked Aymeric Laporte. But that was all they would get for the first half. They finished the half with 64% possession and 14 shots, not bad at all.
As the second half began it was very easy to expect more of the same. Though Shakhtar came out with a couple of good chances in the first five minutes; the game settled into a familiar pattern. By the 60’ minute that pattern was still ongoing and producing nothing worth remembering at all.
Finally with about twenty-five minutes to go Guardiola brought Bernardo Silva into the game to give Kevin De Bruyne some rest. Silva has been in outstanding form this season, and he makes the team so much better. He proved that immediately when in the 71’ minute he drove the ball forward on the counter. Then played a 1-2 with Riyad Mahrez and the curled a lovely finish into the bottom corner for City’s third goal.
But even after that goal, Shakhtar continued to grow in the game. It was easy to tell they were a team well versed in handling possession. They put in a good effort for their home fans in the second hand, creating chances and actually having more of the second half possession than City did.
However, the chances they created were nowhere near the level of City’s chances. And thus to City went the spoils.
The biggest thing to take away from a Man City perspective is how taken aback they were when Shakhtar decided to come out of their shell. The first half was a predictable domination from City. They controlled the ball, scored to two goals and looked set for an easy rout. But as the second half began and wore on from there Shakhtar looked to be the team in control.
Apart from a few moments of technical brilliance from City, Shakhtar controlled the half. Guardiola would be furious with a second-half performance like that. And it’s not the only time in the UCL this season they have looked second best. The brightest spot of the half for City was Bernardo Silva and his continued assertion into the Manchester City’s starting eleven.
Now that De Bruyne is back fit it will be important for Silva to see continued minutes both in midfield and on the wing. He has been better than anyone wearing sky blue to start this season and deserves to keep his place. The addition of Mahrez makes it tough, but it is still a good problem to have.
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