Print Edition - 2018-02-15 | Sports
Gundogan double puts City on verge of quarter-finals
- UEFA champions league
Feb 15, 2018-
Ilkay Gundogan says there is still more to come from Manchester City after their 4-0 rout of Basel left them on the verge of the Champions League quarter-finals.
The runaway Premier League leaders destroyed Basel’s morale with a three-goal burst after just 23 minutes of the first leg last-16 mismatch. City’s first three goals came in a devastating nine-minute spell thanks to a header from Gundogan, a Bernardo Silva volley and a long-range Sergio Aguero strike. It was Aguero’s 14th goal in 11 games in 2018. Gundogan added a fourth after the break and was only denied a hat-trick by the dogged determination of Basel goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik. The tie looks all but settled ahead of the return leg at the Etihad on March 7.
Gundogan says City can do better and he threw down the gauntlet to their Champions League rivals. “The result was maybe perfect, but there are still plenty of things to improve,” said Gundogan The 27-year-old German singled out City’s playmaker Kevin de Bruyne for his part in his opening goal.
Pep Guardiola’s City starved Basel of the ball, enjoying 69-percent possession. “To win 4-0 away in the last 16 is an amazing result, we are almost in the quarter-finals, but I am not saying we are already there, out of respect for Basel,” said Guardiola. “We defended well and we were clinical—we had four chances and took them all. If we get to the quarter-finals that is already better than last season and that is the first step for us.”
The Spaniard heaped praise on Gundogan and his midfield teammates, including David Silva who made a return off the bench after injury. This was City’s 34th win in all competitions this season—one more than they managed in the whole of 2016-2017. City’s captain Vincent Kompany made his first Champions League appearance this season after a calf injury. He urged his team to give themselves a rousing victory margin in the second leg.
Guardiola said the return of David Silva and Leroy Sane, who both came on in the second half, boosts City’s chances in the coming weeks. They play Wigan away on Saturday, face Arsenal in back-to-back matches starting with the League Cup final on February 25, then host Chelsea on March 4. Sane’s return from an ankle injury after only two weeks was a surprise with the German back—a month ahead of schedule.
Both Kompany and Guardiola criticised Basel’s Sankt Jakob Park pitch. “I thought the pitch was a bit difficult, it was freezing out there,” said Kompany while Guardiola described the pitch as “dangerous”. Basel boss Raphael Wicky said the first leg has been effectively decided by City’s first-half goal flurry. “They were very clinical, the first few goals were given away too easy and when you are 3-0 down after 23 minutes, it’s obviously over,” said the Swiss.
Meanwhile, Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri insisted he would not be getting depressed despite criticism at failing to land the killer blow against Tottenham in their last 16, first leg clash in Turin. “If anyone thought that Juventus would win 4-0 this evening he was way off track,” blasted Allegri, after his more experienced side threw away a dream start with two Gonzalo Higuain goals inside 10 minutes to end with a 2-2 draw in front of their frustrated fans at the Allianz Stadium.
Higuain got the first goal after 73 seconds, and minutes later added a second from the spot after Ben Davies’ foul on Federico Bernardeschi. But Harry Kane revived Spurs hopes after half an hour, with his seventh goal in the competition this season, rounding flattened goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. Higuain missed a second penalty before the break following Serge Aurier’s reckless challenge on Douglas Costa to keep the English side in the game. Christian Eriksen scored Tottenham’s second goal from a freekick after centre-back Giorgio Chiellini fouled Dele Alli, sending it low past a wrong-footed Buffon, leaving all to play for in Wembley on March 7.
Basel 0-4 Man City
Juve 2-2 Spurs
Published: 15-02-2018 10:20