FC Basel 0-4 Manchester City: City Stride Towards Champions League Quarter-Finals
Manchester City took a giant stride towards the Champions League quarter-finals with a clinical 4-0 victory over Basel in the first leg of their last-16 tie at St. Jakob-Park.
City raced into a three-goal lead inside 24 minutes thanks to a near-post Ilkay Gundogan header (14), a Bernardo Silva volley (18) and Sergio Aguero’s thunderous 198th goal for the club (23).
Basel had a strong penalty appeal declined before the City deluge but the Swiss champions – often the scourge of English sides in Europe – had no reply, as Gundogan’s second (53) wrapped up a comprehensive victory for Pep Guardiola’s men.
It means City can set their sights on the last eight of Europe’s elite club competition for only the second time, barring a miraculous Basel turnaround in the return leg at the Etihad on March 7.
Basel: Vaclik (4), Lacroix (5), Xhaka (5), Suchy (5), Lang (5), Frei (5), Serey Die (5), Riveros (4), Elyounoussi (5), Stocker (5), Oberlin (6).
Subs: Ajeti (5), Bua (5).
Man City: Ederson (7), Walker (7), Kompany (7), Otamendi (7), Delph (7), Fernandinho (7), Gundogan (9), De Bruyne (8), Sterling (7), Bernardo (8), Aguero (8).
Subs: Danilo (n/a), Sane (6), Silva (6).
Man of the Match: Ilkay Gundogan
City tested Tomas Vaclik inside two minutes as he tipped a Gundogan header over the bar, but the Basel goalkeeper would spend the rest of the half picking the ball out his own net as City ran riot.
It could have been a different story for Basel had Dimitri Oberlin converted a sixth-minute chance after racing through on goal, or if Nicolas Otamendi’s barge on the striker in the area had not gone unpunished.
But, after a couple of early scares, City settled into their groove and took the lead in emphatic style as Gundogan fired a near-post header into the back of the net via a Kevin De Bruyne corner.
One soon became two as Bernardo Silva chested and volleyed a deflected Raheem Sterling cross through the woeful defences of Vaclik, who stood and watched as Aguero bludgeoned a third to move within two goals of a double century of City goals.
Basel, a shadow of the side that beat Manchester United in the group stages, reached the interval without falling further behind, and Mohamed Elyounoussi’s swerving shot drew a fine save from Ederson on 49 minutes.
But the hosts’ faint hopes of a comeback were nonchalantly extinguished by Gundogan, who skipped inside three defenders before curling an unstoppable effort into the top corner. Such was City’s dominance, they were able to give Leroy Sane a run out as he returned from a ligament injury five weeks ahead of schedule.
Vincent Kompany returned to captain Manchester City as Pep Guardiola made two changes to the side which thrashed Leicester. The other saw Fabian Delph replace Alexander Zinchenko at left-back. Basel boss Raphael Wicky went one better, drafting in Leo Lacroix, Blas Riveros and Fabian Frei after their win over FC Thun.
Oberlin spurned two chances to grab a consolation for Basel but City ruthlessly saw out the game, and could have had a fifth had Gundogan’s goal-bound effort not been thwarted by the sprawling Vaclik 16 minutes from time.
- Man City’s 4-0 victory over Basel was the biggest away win by an English side in the knockout stage of the Champions League (previously Liverpool’s 3-0 away victory over PSV in the quarter-finals of the 2006-07 season).
- This was Basel’s first defeat at St Jakob-Park in the knockout stages (previously W1 D1) – indeed, they have never gone further than the last 16 (2011-12, 2014-15).
- Vincent Kompany made his first Champions League appearance for Man City since playing against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu on May 4, 2016 (650 days ago).
- Kevin De Bruyne has been involved in 10 goals in his last seven games in all competitions – in fact, he has now registered 19 assists in all competitions this season, five more than any other player playing for a Premier League side (Leroy Sane, 14).
- Sergio Aguero has scored in all four of his Champions League away appearances so far this season for Man City.
Man of the Match – Ilkay Gundogan
All eyes were on Sergio Aguero ahead of kick-off following his four-goal haul against Leicester but City’s dynamic midfielder stole the show. At the heart of an imperious display throughout, the German opened and completed the scoring in front of his international manager Joachim Low. And had it not been for the late heroics of Tomas Vaclik, he would have had hat-trick.
Manchester City will look to continue their trophy hunt on four fronts when they travel to Wigan in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Monday, while Basel host St Gallen in the Swiss Super League on Saturday.