Champions League: Manchester City continue winning run

Gabriel Jesus
Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus, right, celebrates scoring their second goal with Bernardo Silva. Photo: Reuters

Bernardo Silva scored once and set up another as Manchester City eased to a 2-0 victory over Borussia Moenchengladbach in their Champions League last-16 first leg on Wednesday, extending their winning run to 19 games in all competitions.

Ferland Mendy grabbed a late winner to earn lacklustre Real Madrid a 1-0 win over 10-man Atalanta in another Champions League last-16 first leg.

Real's task appeared to have been made much easier after Atalanta's Remo Freuler was sent off in the 17th minute for denying Mendy a goal-scoring opportunity.

Against the 10 men, however, Zinedine Zidane's side, who were missing several high-profile players through injury, struggled to break down the hosts, and Real had only one shot on target in the rest of the first half.

Atalanta continued to defend doggedly after the interval, but Mendy's superb strike in the 86th minute gave the record 13-time European champions a slender lead to take into the second leg.

Ferland Mendy
Ferland Mendy, left, exults after netting the winner. Photo: Reuters

"We didn't play well, but the important thing is the result,” Zidane said.

"We couldn't find any space. If you have to play against 10 men it is hard to play without space. But for us it's very important to have found the goal, especially an away goal."

Huge advantage for City

City, who are unbeaten in their last 26 matches, have a huge advantage for the March 16 return leg in Manchester after Silva headed in a pinpoint Joao Cancelo cross in the 29th minute to put them in front.

The Portuguese midfielder then headed on another cross from man of the match Cancelo in the 65th minute for Gabriel Jesus to stab in.

"It was a good game for us, a good win, very important," scorer Silva said. "We know how tough this competition can be. You make a mistake and you're out. So we tried to play simple, make no mistakes, control possession as we always do and create chances and score goals."

"It was a very good game for us, but it's not over yet," he said.

Striker Sergio Aguero came on as a substitute after a lengthy absence from Pep Guardiola's team, who have won their last 12 away games in all competitions, setting a new record for an English top-flight side.

The first leg was played in the Hungarian capital due to COVID-19 travel restrictions in Germany and City quickly took control of the game, circulating the ball well and looking for openings in the Gladbach defence.

Phil Foden tested keeper Yann Sommer with a crisp shot in the sixth minute but City did not have a clear scoring chance despite controlling possession until Silva's header.

Jesus should have done much better when he benefited from a Gladbach pass back early in the first half but with only Sommer to beat he hesitated and lost possession.

The Brazilian made amends minutes later, tapping in a Silva header from yet another superb Cancelo cross.

Gladbach, who only had one attempt on target in the entire game, had their best chance through Alassane Plea's spectacular backflick-volley just past the hour but were otherwise boxed in their own half.

"We had to face a top team and we felt it," said Gladbach coach Marco Rose. "But we made some mistakes even though we defended well in general terms."

"We were not clean enough against such a team. Every pass every run has to work against them."

The Germans have now lost three of their last four games in all competitions and while City are on the cusp of a fourth straight quarterfinal spot, the Germans have a mountain to climb in the return leg.

The comments posted here/below/in the given space are not on behalf of Onmanorama. The person posting the comment will be in sole ownership of its responsibility. According to the central government's IT rules, obscene or offensive statement made against a person, religion, community or nation is a punishable offense, and legal action would be taken against people who indulge in such activities.