Manchester City V FC Porto: 5 Things We Learned from the Europa League Showdown
After securing a 2-1 away win at the Estadio do Dragao, it seemed likely that City would progress to the next round.
City's home record in European competition is imperious, having not lost since their 2008 clash with FC Midtjylland—a run stretching 16 matches.
But not many people predicted the demolition job that came at Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night.
The resounding 4-0 win against Porto has set up a tie with another Portuguese club, Sporting Lisbon.
Here are five things we learned from their Europa League triumph.
City Are Overwhelming Favourites for the Title
After demolishing the current holders, City have firmly established themselves as the favourites to go on and win the competition.
With rivals United stumbling through following a 2-0 home loss but 3-2 aggregate win against Ajax on Thursday, it doesn't seem like many of the remaining sides will be able to stand in the way of Mancini's men.
However, should it come down to a question of the league or the Europa League, I don't think there can be any doubt which competition both sides of the Manchester divide would favour.
Hulk Is Definitely Not Worth £83m
The much-heralded striker has done little to justify why Chelsea are reportedly interested in meeting his £83m release clause in the summer window.
Besides supplying the assist for Porto's only goal over the two legs, his performances were lacklustre and cumbersome.
The home fans sang "you're not incredible"—a playful pun on his namesake's superhero alter ego—as they picked up on his poor performance.
He only threatened in brief patches, and many people—Chelsea fans in particular—will be questioning whether he has the pedigree to perform at the highest level.
Vitor Pereira Is Struggling to Continue AVB's Legacy
The relatively inexperienced Portuguese coach was appointed by AVB as his assistant when he took the hot seat in 2010.
His managerial record is poor—win rates of 49, 47 and 41 percent at Santa Clara, Espinho and Sanjoanense respectively—and he hasn't improved much during his time with "The Dragons."
Ironically, his win rate this season with Porto of 56 percent is the same as his compatriot André Villas Boas' at Chelsea; and everyone knows the pressure he's under.
Pereira's future at the Portuguese champions could be over sooner rather than later.
City Can Win Without the Ball
Much has been made of the fact that City are playing a much more expansive, attacking style of play this season compared to the defensive mentality that plagued them last campaign.
This may be in no small part down to Mancini playing only one holding midfielder and dropping Nigel de Jong, but on Wednesday they further showed that they can still win without dominating the play.
Porto held 65 percent of the possession during the 90 minutes, but only managed a handful of shots on target.
On the other hand, City were clinical—finishing four of the six chances they had—and although the scoreline may have flattered them somewhat, they will be delighted with a win of such a margin.
City Really Missed Yaya Touré
The big Ivorian has become a linchpin in Mancini's operation at City, and when he was on African Nations Cup duty he was sorely missed.
The tireless box-to-box player has established himself as one of the best central midfielders in world football since joining from Barcelona in 2010. The City faithful will be relieved to have him back for the run in.
City have a run of games during March that they should be winning and winning comfortably. If they are to win their first Premier League title in May, Touré will be an intrinsic cog in the machine.