Manchester City established themselves at the top of Group F with a hard fought victory against a fearless Shakhtar Donetsk side.
Both sides looked to take the game to each other in the early stages of the match and the game ebbed and flowed from the start till the final whistle. Neither side looked to let up and it was an extremely exciting game, with a lot of end-to-end action.
Shakhtar looked to be the more threatening side in the first half and took the Citizens by surprise with their attacking play. Their full-backs ran rampant and the likes of Bernard, Taison, Fred and Marlos were constantly harassing the City defence.
Both sides went level into the break and came back exactly how they left the game, but City broke the deadlock thanks to a stunning 25-yard strike from Kevin de Bruyne. That didn’t slow the Ukrainians down though, and they kept attacking at the same pace.
Chances came and went for both sides and there a few close penalty calls, but then second half substitutes Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva combined in the 90th minute to help the Englishman score his 6th goal of the season across all competitions and seal the victory for the Citizens.
Had to be aware throughout and was called into action on one key occasion in the first half, where he stepped up. His smart distribution and range of passing were on display on the night, but he was largely untroubled in the second half and made a key save in the closing stages.
Kyle Walker: 5
Ismaily and Bernard gave him a torrid evening on the right and it often seemed as if the Englishman couldn’t keep up with the two. Caught off guard more than once and found him chasing their heels and trying to defend far more than he would’ve preferred.
John Stones: 7
Stones had a good game and showed a lot of composure throughout. A resolute figure at the heart of defence alongside Nicolas Otamendi, he helped ease the pressure at the back for City with some calm defending in potentially dangerous situations and wasn’t fazed by the Shakhtar onslaught.
Nicolas Otamendi: 7
It was a good day at the office for Otamendi, who cut a composed figure at the back alongside John Stones. Provided good cover for Fabian Delph on the left flank and made some good passes out of defence, while also getting in some tackles.
Fabian Delph: 7
A surprise inclusion at left-back, the 27-year-old put in a solid outing. He answered all questions asked of him with conviction, though he wasn’t nearly as harassed as Kyle Walker. There were no errors from his part that proved to be costly, and his performance allowed David Silva and Leroy Sane to focus more on attacking duties.
Kevin De Bruyne: 8
Broke the deadlock in the second half with a sumptuous strike from distance, one which more than made up for a cheap miss earlier. Much like the rest of the City side, the Belgian was frustrated by Shakhtar’s defence, but still managed to shine in midfield.
Some smart distribution allowed for his teammates to have a number of goalscoring chances, most of which were wasted. He helped run the show from the middle of the park alongside David Silva, but he has had better days in the past and better performances ahead of him.
The Brazilian put in a fantastic performance against the visitors and was arguably City’s best player on the night. The former Shakhtar man seemed to be everywhere, contributing in both attack and defence as the game went on and helping cut out dangerous attacks.
Shakhtar’s pace in midfield further compounded his problems. The likes of Fred and Taison were fantastic throughout, but the 32-year-old stepped up to the plate and didn’t disappoint. He was arguably their best player defensively, providing adequate cover for his centre-backs by tracking back and nullifying runs deep into his own defence.
David Silva: 8
The pressure that comes with the captain’s armband doesn’t seem to be weighing him down one bit; it arguably makes him a better player. The Spaniard was once again at his best on the night and pulled the strings in the middle of the park.
A highlight of his game was a super chipped ball to Aguero, which couldn’t be converted. Combined well with Sane and De Bruyne and didn’t forget to perform his defensive duties as well, pressurizing opponents and tracking back often when his side were on the backfoot.
Gabriel Jesus: 7
It was an uneventful night for the 20-year-old, who did nothing of note and didn’t see much of the ball in the first half. Chased down whatever he could, but they led to nothing and he was taken off early in the second half for Raheem Sterling for a tactical tweak, by a consoling Pep Guardiola.
Sergio Aguero: 6
Not a good night for the Argentine. He looked threatening for most of the game and had a good number of chances to get himself on the scoresheet, but clearly left his shooting boots at home. Had a woeful penalty saved by Andriy Pyatov and that pretty much summed up his night. Eric Brook’s all-time scoring record still stands to be broken on another day.
Leroy Sané: 7
The young German was a constant threat in to Shakhtar’s defence and saw a lot of the ball on the left wing. However, he couldn’t make much of it. Sane was constantly on the move down that flank, linking up well with Silva, and his battle with Bohdan Butko was a highlight of the game.
He had chances to score, but couldn’t make the most of them. He also won the penalty that wasn’t converted. The German linked up well with his teammates, but he needs to be more clinical and make better decisions in the final third. Will have better games going forward.
Raheem Sterling: 7
Brought on for Gabriel Jesus to provide some more pace down the wings, Sterling missed a glorious chance to double his side’s lead almost immediately. But, he made some good runs, got into some good positions and later combined superbly with Bernardo Silva to score in the 90th minute.
Ilkay Gundogan: N/A
Came on for David Silva in the 81st minute, but could do nothing of note.
Bernardo Silva: 6
Came on for Sergio Aguero with 5 minutes left, and provided the assist for City’s second goal.