Man City hammer Feyenoord, Leipzig hold Monaco
Manchester City thrashed Dutch champions Feyenoord 4-0 as defender John Stones scored twice to get Pep Guardiola’s side off to a flying Champions League start on Wednesday.
Stones headed home on two minutes after a sublime chip by skipper David Silva, and after Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus had made the win safe, the England centre-back capped off the evening with a second powerful header for a memorable brace.
“The most important thing and what pleased me the most (about the win) is the way in which we did it,” said City coach Guardiola.
“We did not play back… We were aggressive… We had the legs to run on the side, especially on the right and created the chances. Enough to win the game comfortably.”
To complicate matters for City however, in the other Group F game, fancied Napoli were beaten 2-1 at Shakhtar Donetsk.
In Rotterdam, City tore Feyenoord to pieces as hard-working midfielders Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne punched holes in the home defence, which was in all sorts of trouble on a stormy evening at a packed De Kuip.
Aguero made it 2-0 after 10 minutes when he hammered in a half-volley from a sublime cross from Kyle Walker, which flew past goalkeeper Brad Jones.
The Argentinian striker has now scored 172 goals for Manchester City and is only five short of former England international Eric Brook’s all-time record of 177.
– Merciless City –
City continued their merciless onslaught, giving the hosts very little space to create chances while continuing to threaten with lightning-fast attacks down the right flank.
The weather did little to improve the fanatical Feyenoord supporters’ mood, as the fans began jeering the players each time the ball was passed back to Jones, who had a busy evening.
The keeper blocked a blistering shot from Aguero which rebounded for Benjamin Mendy to take another shot, bouncing off the Australian again.
Jones could not hold on however and an unmarked Jesus performed the simple task of booting the ball into the back on the net for a debut Champions League goal.
Feyenoord regained some composure in the second half, but it did not take the visitors long to find the back of the net again, this time in the form of a blistering header by Stones from a finely-floated De Bruyne corner.
“John Stones, there is no doubt about his quality,” Guardiola said.
“But he knows what the gap is to improve as a football player, he has to win the duels. When he will be able to do that he will become an exceptional centre defender.”
Feyenoord sorely missed injured Danish international striker Nicolai Jorgensen.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s home side never really got going, with most shots flying wide of goal and doing very little to bother City keeper Ederson.
Ederson bravely took to the field after being injured in the face over the weekend following a collision with Liverpool’s Sadio Mane.
The Brazilian sported eight stitches, a head guard and a special neck brace.
Some Feyenoord supporters started leaving the stadium before the final whistle, but most fans continued to chant slogans around the stadium as their team’s return to the Champions League for the first time in 15 years ended in miserable fashion.
Van Bronckhorst conceded that his players were outgunned.
“Yes, I think so,” Van Bronckhorst said when asked whether he thought Manchester City could win the Champions League.
“As I said before, it’s a very good team. They have a lot of qualities, a lot of speed, they have everything to be a tough team.
“Today we were not ready for them.”
-Forsberg ‘very proud’-
Youri Tielemans levelled a minute after Emil Forsberg’s opener for RB Leipzig to salvage a 1-1 draw for French champions Monaco.
With Leipzig making their competition debut, Forsberg’s goal raised the roof at the Red Bull Arena.
It will go down in history as his club’s first on European football’s biggest stage, though it is unlikely to be their last.
“It’s something special to have score Leipzig’s first ever goal in the Champions League,” said Forsberg after the game.
“I’m very proud.”
Despite their inexperience at this exalted level, Leipzig appeared undaunted in this Group G tie.
Teenager Dayot Upamecano was imperious at the back, while in-form striker Timo Werner looked dangerous up front.
With Monaco’s back line holding firm, and their wingers Djibril Sidibe and Adama Diakhaby struggling to strike on the counter-attack, there were few chances to speak of in the opening half an hour.
But in the 33rd minute, Leipzig struck.
Swedish winger Forsberg found space on the left and blasted the ball past Diego Benaglio at the near post.
The euphoria, though, was short-lived as a deep cross from Sidibe found Diakhaby, who nodded the ball down for Tielemans to prod past Peter Gulacsi.
“The coach told me I’d play as the second attacker and talked to me about my positioning and I think it went well for me,” said Tielemans.
Werner, who had twice come centimetres from scoring in the first half, was threatening again after the break, and began to pick up more space as he was switched to a wider position on the left.
“It was obviously an incredible feeling today,” said 21-year-old striker Werner.
“We were desperate to win today, but sadly we couldn’t quite do it.”
Several half-chances fell Werner’s way, but it was Jean-Kevin Augustin who came closest to breaking the deadlock, denied in a one-on-one with Benaglio.
He had another chance in injury time, breaking free of the defence in the Monaco penalty area, only to be called offside. Yet on a night where neither side reached their penetrative best, it ended a point apiece.
Leipzig’s Champions League debut crowned a blistering rise from the lower leagues since their founding in 2009.
After finishing second in the Bundesliga last season, the club were celebrating the biggest night of their history against Monaco.
Against more experienced opposition and without their star midfielder Naby Keita, it was not a given that they would avoid defeat in their maiden Champions League appearance.
Many of those on the pitch had played for Leipzig since the club was in the second or third division.
Few had any idea how RB’s still young squad would react to the pressure of playing on club football’s biggest stage.
The more dangerous side over long periods, Leipzig will nonetheless be as happy as Monaco with the draw.
Leipzig next face Besiktas in Turkey, with Monaco hosting Porto.
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