On Tuesday night, Manchester City put on a show of exquisite attacking football that was a joy to behold. Club Brugge had gone undefeated in the Champions League this season, but they ran into a mismatch.
In a dazzling City display, Philippe Clement’s team was reduced to extras. The raucous home crowd in the steep bowl-like arena could not be silenced, but their team was outclassed.
The home crowd did not have a particularly memorable evening. Players from both teams were booed when they took the knee prior to kick-off, and bottles were hurled at Cancelo as he celebrated the opening in another unsavoury scenario that could lead to disciplinary action from UEFA.
Pep Guardiola was impressed by the display of the Belgian side. “It was a really good performance. One of the best in Europe, definitely,” said the manager. “I know how good they did with PSG [drawing] and in Germany [beating RB Leipzig] but we controlled the game. We are all delighted.”
He even revealed that he consulted his former skipper, Vincent Kompany, now Anderlecht Manager. “I spoke to Vinny and he gave me some info, he knows Brugge better than me, he told me to be careful,” Guardiola said.
Jack Grealish thought he should have had a penalty early on after a challenge by Clinton Mata. But the opener came as Phill Foden lofted a long pass into the box and Cancelo got behind the defence to neatly flick it through Mignolet’s legs. The Cityzens doubled their lead on the stroke of halftime after Stanley Nsoki tripped Mahrez just inside the 18 yards box. The Algerian stepped up to tuck the spot kick coolly into the bottom right corner.
The dominance continued after halftime and it was just a question of how many more City might score before the end of the game given their complete control of the match. Kyle Walker got on the scoresheet through a sequence that went to De Bruyne-Mahrez-De Bruyne, whose beautiful pass was smashed in by the happy fullback.
The Manchester City Manager was so relaxed and his team were so impressive that he could take off Foden and Kevin De Bruyne just after the hour mark. The City players who came on took 3 minutes to create a 4th goal as Raheem Sterling skated along the left and zipped the ball over for Cole Palmer – a 19-year-old enjoying a second UCL appearance, to score from 18 yards.
When De Bruyne was substituted, he was greeted warmly by the Brugge fans. Sterling himself struck the side netting and squandered three more golden opportunities.
Ederson had nothing to do until he had to save a late header from Charles De Ketelaere. Captain Vanaken added a late consolation, but City were not finished yet, as Mahrez added a 5th goal on a breakaway.