JUST when it appeared like Manchester Metropolis’s bandwagon was stalling, step ahead Raheem Sterling.
Gio van Bronkhorst’s decided Feyenoord appeared sure to finish Pep Guardiola’s exceptional successful streak with a dogged show.
However with the clock ticking down on a irritating evening, the England man swapped passes with Ilkay Gundogan earlier than clipping over Brad Jones with simply two minutes remaining.
What a season the previous Liverpool man is having. What a season Metropolis are having.
Even on lacklustre nights like this, they nonetheless come out on prime. And that is precisely what they’ve accomplished of their Champions League group too.
Sterling’s 11th aim of the season – together with Napoli’s win over Shakhtar Donetsk – means their journey to Ukraine in two weeks is a lifeless rubber.
And the way necessary may that be with the Manchester derby at Outdated Trafford 4 days later?
It became an excellent evening all spherical for Metropolis who have been additionally capable of hand a debut to their younger star Phil Foden 15 minutes from time.
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Metropolis’s 4 straight wins meant they have been already by way of to the final 16 earlier than this recreation – but they nonetheless had work to do to safe prime spot.
Guardiola had hinted at making 11 modifications for this one – with the house crowd hopeful of seeing younger starlets Phil Foden and Brahim Diaz.
But each have been named on the bench with Pep trying to safe their passage by way of as group leaders. However maybe he was additionally eager to increase their exceptional successful sequence which stood at 16 – one in all which was on penalties – going into this one.
Though Guardiola made seven modifications in the long run, he would have been assured of beating the Dutch aspect who had but to register some extent.
Metropolis’s house type on this good competitors has been good within the final two years with eight wins of their final 11 ties right here. And stand in skipper Sergio Aguero had the possibilities early on to be sure that sequence can be prolonged.
First he shot straight at former Liverpool keeper Brad Jones – then he nodded a cross from Kevin de Bruyne over the bar.
Gio van Bronckhorst’s crew had misplaced their final seven matches on this competitors however they gave Metropolis a fright halfway by way of the primary half.
Ederson Moraes mis-controlled a easy ball ahead permitting Jean-Paul Boetius took it off him earlier than the keeper dived in to win the ball again.
Some visiting gamers appealed for a penalty – however replays confirmed the Brazilian had simply obtained a nick on the ball first.
It gave the Dutch aspect confidence although and so they have been nearly forward as Sam Larsson weaved his method by way of earlier than rolling his shot broad of the far put up.
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However the recreation was lastly opening up and Raheem Sterling labored the ball out to Bernardo Silva who could not get any energy in his shot and fired it straight at Jones.
It had been a irritating half for Metropolis – who have been so eager to place the sport – and the group to mattress – and it continued after the break.
Bernardo’s cross from the correct appeared like it might give Sterling a faucet in however Sven van Beek obtained bak to hoof clear from below his personal bar.
Then Aguero slid in de Bruyne however the Belgian’s sliced his effort properly broad.
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KdB then picked up a yellow card for a rash problem on the sting of his personal field – that means he shall be banned for the journey to Donetsk. It is truthful to say he will not lose any sleep over that.
He may have gotten the breakthrough minutes later however fired his shot broad earlier than going off to place his toes up.
By now information had come by way of that Napoli have been forward – that means Metropolis would win the group with some extent.
It did not cease them going for the winner although as Yaya Toure curled a free kick inches off beam.
And as they pushed up, there have been gaps left on the different finish with Steven Berghuis latching onto Larsson’s cross and firing in a volley which needed to be touched over by Ederson.
Metropolis have been missing in there typical sharpness up entrance and a protracted ball excessive was managed by Aguero – however his usually lethal radar was off and he fired broad.
The temper at a subdued Etihad was lifted by the introduction of Foden 15 minutes from time – for his Metropolis debut.
The 17-year-old child from Stokcport is a lifelong Metropolis fan and should have dreamed of this second for a few years.
He was one of many stars of England’s current World Cup triumph in India and changed a person in Yaya Toure – who’s twice his age.
Foden did not look misplaced both – with some assured touches as his crew pushed for a winner.
When sub Gabriel Jesus flashed a header from a nook simply broad it appeared prefer it wasn’t going to be their evening.
However then Sterling swapped passes with Gundogan and completed in very good fashion to present Metropolis the factors.