Manchester City Rout Shakhtar Donetsk 3-0 in Champions League Group Stage

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistSeptember 18, 2019

Manchester City's Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus celebrates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League Group C football match between FC Shakhtar Donetsk and Manchester City FC at the OSK Metalist stadium in Kharkiv on September 18, 2019. (Photo by Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP)        (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
SERGEI SUPINSKY/Getty Images

Manchester City cruised to a 3-0 win away to Shakhtar Donetsk in their UEFA Champions League Group C opener on Wednesday.

Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan scored in a dominant first half to steer Pep Guardiola's side into a two-goal lead. The Premier League giants rarely looked ruffled in Kharkiv, Ukraine, and added a third through Gabriel Jesus to cap off a confident display.

Croat contenders Dinamo Zagreb hammered Atalanta 4-0 in Wednesday's other Group C fixture to take a lead in the pool.

City scored nine times in their two meetings with Shakhtar during last season's group stage, giving Guardiola's side some idea of the plunder they might expect.

Injuries to Aymeric Laporte and John Stones saw midfield veteran Fernandinho step in at centre-back alongside Nicolas Otamendi. Jesus started ahead of Sergio Aguero up front, while right-back Kyle Walker kept his place ahead of summer signing Joao Cancelo, who is yet to make a start for City.

The English guests didn't take long to wrest momentum of the game, restricting the Ukrainian hosts from having any attacking presence early on at Metalist Stadium in Kharkiv.

Mahrez was on hand to convert with a steady eye after City accumulated pressure in front of the opposition goal (U.S. viewers only):

The Algerian turned provider for Gundogan's strike shortly before half-time, driving into the Shakhtar box before releasing his team-mate in space to nudge home, per The Athletic's Sam Lee:

Junior Moraes had the best of Shakhtar's first-half chances and will have rued his misses considering opportunities were so few and far between.

The Brazilian striker first made a disguised run through City's defence but fired his shot straight at goalkeeper Ederson. He was then put through on goal thanks to a sumptuous ball from Taison but stumbled in the box and failed to make contact with the ball, almost injuring himself in the process.

ESPN's Rob Dawson complimented the ease with which Fernandinho settled in at centre-back, particularly considering this was the Brazilian's first City start since April:

Shakhtar defender Sergey Krivtsov was fortunate his side stayed two behind after his attempted clearance zipped to the feet of Raheem Sterling close to goal after the restart. Goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov got back to see Sterling hit the outside of his post, though he won't have thanked his centre-back for the scare.

The travelling fans will have wondered how their side failed to increase their lead considering the control they boasted for much of the fixture, with the second half resembling an exhibition for City at times. 

Jesus finally gave City the third they'd been waiting for after he was unleashed by a perfect Kevin De Bruyne pass, knocking past Pyatov after a three-on-one overlap. 

Guardiola will be glad to have got off to a positive start in Champions League Group C, although Dinamo Zagreb's thumping of Atalanta means they're currently second in the pool.

     

What's Next?

City have two days rest before they resume their Premier League season at home to Watford on Saturday. Shakhtar aren't due back in league action until they travel to Desna Chernihiv on Sunday.

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