The English champions dominated from start to finish, with captain David Silva and defender Aymeric Laporte scoring in the first half before substitute Bernardo Silva sealed the points in Ukraine. Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says his side played the best football of his time in charge as they swept aside Shakhtar Donetsk to go top of Champions League Group F.
Guardiola, appointed in July 2016, described the performance as “outstanding” and “incredible” as Shakhtar were beaten at home by an English side in Europe for the first time. “Our first half was the best we have played in the last three seasons, since I’ve been here,” said the Spaniard. “We were outstanding – we created a lot of chances.” Former Spain midfielder Silva volleyed City into the lead soon after his flick had come back off a post.
French defender Laporte headed the second after a corner by Kevin de Bruyne, who was making his first start of the season following a knee injury, before substitute Bernardo Silva made it 3-0 with a shot that went in off the post.
City had 14 shots in the first half alone in Kharkiv, Riyad Mahrez seeing an effort cleared off the line by Yaroslav Rakitskiy when the game was goalless. Raheem Sterling also hit the bar in the dying moments.
City turn on the style in Ukraine
City’s surprise 2-1 opening home defeat by Lyon on 19 September seems an awfully long time ago. Having bounced back with a 2-1 win in Germany against Hoffenheim, the prospect of a long journey to face experienced European opponents was a potentially daunting one.
Yet the 600 travelling fans who made the 4,000-mile round trip were rewarded with a stellar performance and a result that took their team one point clear of Lyon, who had started the day top of the group but were held at Hoffenheim.
“We have recovered well from Lyon and now it’s in our hands,” added Guardiola. “We can control our destiny now. It was so important to get this result and we will enjoy tonight and the next few days with this victory.”
City had 24 shots in total and at one stage had managed an incredible 98% possession.
On the eve of this game, Guardiola said his side were “not ready” to win the Champions League. Shakhtar are not genuine European heavyweights but City fans who witnessed this delicious performance might disagree with the Spaniard. The hosts were forced to spend much of the game camped inside their own area as Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus and David Silva peppered Shakhtar’s goal with shots.
The only surprise was that it took half an hour to break the deadlock, Silva following up his late winner against Hoffenheim with an emphatic finish to set his team on their way. Laporte was unmarked when he made it 2-0 while Shakhtar’s defence parted to allow Bernardo Silva to score just 89 seconds after replacing De Bruyne.
De Bruyne impresses on return
On a night full of positives for City, De Bruyne marked his return to the starting line-up with an impressive performance.
The Belgium midfielder has endured a frustrating campaign through injury but he made up for lost time with an energetic display.