Gabriel Jesus and Ryan Sessegnon represented the Premier League well during UEFA Champions League action on Wednesday night. Jesus helped himself to a hat-trick while Manchester City swept aside Dinamo Zagreb.
City had owned Group C, but Dinamo and Shakhtar Donetsk were left to rue missed chances after Atalanta joined the Citizens in the draw for the round of 16. The Serie A outfit improbably qualified despite having taken just a single point from the first four group matches, completing the job with a 3-0 win away to Shakhtar.
Tottenham Hotspur hadn't left it so late, having already ensured progress from Group B before losing 3-1 away to Bayern Munich. Jose Mourinho rested key stars such as Harry Kane and Dele Alli, but he got an exciting glimpse of what Sessegnon can bring to the team after the 19-year-old scored to highlight an impressive debut at this level.
Unfortunately for Spurs, Giovani Lo Celso wasn't nearly as effective on a rare start. The Argentine has a lot to do to convince Mourinho he deserves more minutes.
Winner: Gabriel Jesus
Jesus' no-goal show during City's 2-1 derby defeat against Manchester United in domestic action at the weekend provided ample ammunition for all the detractors who believe the Brazilian is not equipped to adequately replace the injured Sergio Aguero.
This sentiment made Jesus' star turn in Croatia all the more impressive. He was the standout player on a night of quality performances from promising youngsters.
Dinamo went in front after just 10 minutes courtesy of 21-year-old Spanish maestro Dani Olmo, but Jesus equalised when he headed in from a Riyad Mahrez cross. City's No. 9 doubled his tally after combining brilliantly with playmaker Phil Foden.
Jesus only needed to tap in from close range to complete his hat-trick, thanks to a fine delivery from Benjamin Mendy. In the process, the South American reached a personal milestone:
He also joined some select company among his countrymen who have been prolific at this level:
Although 19-year-old Guardiola favourite Foden later completed the scoring, the night belonged to Jesus. He's been with City since 2017, but it's easy to forget this natural finisher is still only 22.
It makes the extent of his accomplishments to date special, and it also proves City not only have a gifted second striker but also a worthy eventual successor for 31-year-old Aguero.
Loser: Dinamo Zagreb, Shakhtar Donetsk
Shakhtar and Dinamo must have both believed second place was within their grasp after Atalanta's rocky start. The latter was brushed aside with worrying ease by Dinamo on Matchday 1.
A 2-1 defeat at the hands of Shakhtar on home soil made it look as though Atalanta's maiden campaign in the competition was going to be quick, brutal and ultimately forgettable.
When City thrashed the team from Bergamo 5-1 in October, Atalanta's European adventure appeared over, while those of Shakhtar and Dinamo were just beginning:
Credit belongs to Gian Piero Gasperini for the turnaround. His progressive tactics have encouraged the flair of key players such as Josip Ilicic and Chelsea loanee Mario Pasalic.
The latter scored in Kharkiv, but while Atalanta's maestros went from strength to strength, Dinamo and Shakhtar let too many opportunities go to waste. The two played out a 3-3 draw while Gasperini's men were putting their first point on the board in early November.
Dinamo then failed to find the net at the San Siro later in the month before being overwhelmed by a depleted and already qualified City team on home soil.
Shakhtar would have been expected to do better, since the club is an old hand at making headway in this tournament. Yet Luis Castro's team has consistently failed to click at either end of the pitch, scoring only eight times and drawing three matches.
Winner: Ryan Sessegnon
There wasn't much encouragement for Spurs to take from a tough trip to the Allianz Arena, but Mourinho can at least take heart from Sessegnon's display. The winger has been laid low by a hamstring injury, but he chose a big stage on which to remind people why he was so highly regarded at Fulham.
Hype was justified when Sessegnon found the net in the 20th minute:
It meant a place in the club record books for a gifted 19-year-old with the world at his feet:
Building on his exceptional first outing in this competition is the next step in Sessegnon becoming a fixture in Tottenham's best team. Mourinho has already favourably compared Sessegnon to one-time Arsenal and Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole, a comparison the former has welcomed, per Sky Sports.
Sessegnon needs more starts to make good on praise this lavish, but he surely did enough to earn them after his exploits in Germany.
Loser: Giovani Lo Celso
Lo Celso was a gem for Real Betis last season, a goal-scoring and creative force from the heart of midfield. Spurs fans must be wondering where that player has gone, because the 23-year-old has offered little in the way of magic since arriving on loan the same day Sessegnon was signed during the summer.
He looked lost in Munich, struggling to cope with the pace of play and keep possession:
Lo Celso couldn't provide a natural link in the engine room between holding player Eric Dier and schemer Christian Eriksen. There wasn't enough box-to-box energy from a midfielder defined by his late-breaking runs when he's at his best.
Starting won't be easy in a midfield already featuring Alli, Moussa Sissoko, Tanguy Ndombele and Harry Winks. Eriksen and Victor Wanyama are also vying for time, while Lo Celso isn't doing enough to encourage his manager look past familiar faces.