Ilkay Gundogan dazzled with two goals in Manchester City’s 4-0 romp at FC Basel on Tuesday to leave the Premier League leaders on the verge of the Champions League quarter-finals.
Pep Guardiola’s side effectively settled the last-16 tie after just 23 minutes by racing into a 3-0 lead at Basel’s Sankt Jakob Park.
Their first three goals came in a devastating nine-minute spell thanks to a Gundogan header, a Bernardo Silva volley and a long-range Sergio Aguero strike.
Basel’s misery continued just after the break when Gundogan deftly added a fourth from outside the area and he could easily have finished with a hat-trick.
“To win 4-0 away in the last 16 is an amazing result, we are almost in the quarter-finals, but I am not saying we are already there, out of respect for Basel,” said Guardiola.
“We defended well and we were clinical – we had four chances and took them all.”
The scoreline gives the Swiss side little hope for the return leg at the Etihad on March 7.
As expected, Basel were starved of the ball as City enjoyed 69 percent possession and completed 754 of their 882 passes.
“For a Champions League game, we did ever so well,” said City captain Vincent Kompany after his first Champions League appearance this season.
“In these kinds of situations, it is about more than going through — if we have a draw at home that won’t give us a good feeling.”
Germany midfielder Gundogan gave Basel a masterclass in defensive midfield play, complementing his two-goal display by repeatedly snuffing out fledgling Swiss attacks.
The only black mark against him was a late yellow card after a clash with Basel’s Ivory Coast veteran midfielder Serey Die.
Basel head coach Raphael Wicky opted to play a back five when the host were defending, but the ploy only failed to keep City out for the first 14 minutes.
Having already had an earlier effort tipped over the bar, Gundogan got in front of Fabian Frei to power home his header when Kevin De Bruyne whipped in City’s fourth corner of the game.
The visitors’ second goal followed just four minutes later.
Bernardo Silva chested down Raheem Sterling’s deflected cross and fired past Basel goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik.
With Basel’s defence buckling, Aguero, who terrorised Leicester City in the Premier League last Saturday with four goals in a 5-1 rout, hit his 29th goal of the season.
Basel defender Leo Lacroix stopped Fernandinho, but the ball fell into Aguero’s path who hit the bottom corner from outside the area on 23 minutes.
It was the Argentinian’s 14th goal in 11 games in 2018.
It was 3-0 at the break, but City could have ended the first half with two more goals as Sterling forced Vaclik into a desperate scramble and De Bruyne volleyed wide.
Basel made a bright start to the second half, but Gundogan left the Swiss with a mountain to climb when he hit the top right-hand corner on 53 minutes.
Sterling made way for Leroy Sane four minutes later on the left side of City’s attack.
The German winger is back just two weeks after an ankle injury, well ahead of the predicted six the club had forecasted which Guardiola admitted has surprised him.
With half an hour to go and the tie effectively won, Guardiola took off De Bruyne, saving the Belgian for Saturday’s league game at Wigan Athletic and the League Cup final against Arsenal on February 25.
With 15 minutes left, Gundogan was only denied the first hat-trick of his career by Vaclik’s determination.
Sane sprinted down the left wing and although he was tackled, Aguero scooped up the loose ball and set up the German, but Gundogan’s low shot was gathered at the second attempt.
At 4-0 down and the clock ticking, Basel finally started to test City.
Forward Dimitri Oberlin fired wide and winger Mohamed Elyounoussi shot at City goalkeeper Ederson as Basel chased a consolation goal in vain.
In the face of three games without victory, Barcelona have yet again truncated Pep Guardiola’s hope of victory, as Manchester City lost to the Spaniards on Wednesday night.
Five-time Ballon d’Or winner, Lionel Messi netted the opener for the Spanish giants in a much expected tough UEFA Champions League showdown at the Camp Nou.
Efforts by the English side to balance the scoreboard in the first half proved abortive, but led to David Silva and Fernandinho getting a yellow card apiece.
As City’s Claudio Bravo bagged a straight red card, Messi showed his former coach that he was ready for the face-off, as he netted a brace in the second half (making it a hat-trick for the football legend).
Despite Guardiola’s familiarity with the hosts, Barcelona took their stand to maintain their home unbeaten record in the Champions League since 2013, as the match ended 4 – 0 with Neymar’s late goal.
The former Barcelona player and coach took the helm of the Sky Blues last summer.
Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp, has promised that Liverpool will give everything to lift the Europa League trophy.
This came after the Reds booked a place in the final with a 3-0 victory over Villarreal at Anfield.
A Bruno Soriano own goal in the seventh minute was followed by Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana strikes in the second half, which overturned a deficit from the first leg in Spain.
The Reds therefore progress to a meeting with Sevilla in Basel on May 18 – and deservedly so according to Klopp, who was delighted with his team’s display.
During his post-match press conference, Kloop was full of praises for his players admitting excitedly that their performance surpassed his expectations on the night.
“The problem is I’m not a native speaker so I don’t have the right words for this performance. It was nice to watch and nice to be part of it; the whole performance, not from the first, second (but) from 6.45pm when we drove through the road again. It’s nice.
“The first half-hour… what power! The will was obvious, I would say. Then for 15 minutes we lost a little bit of patience, that’s normal. We tried (to be) a little bit different and it made not too much sense. In the second half, (it was) back to the plan – still very emotional plus very smart, wonderful goals, well deserved.”
Kloop also had good words for striker Daniel Sturridge, who he admitted had a great game but mainly because he had a great team to play with, maintaining that the entire team was outstanding.
The 2016 Europa League final is Liverpool’s first European final since 2007 and Kloop considers this a great feat considering how the season has been for the club and particularly how difficult the Europa League started for them.
“When I came here, the tournament didn’t sound too nice for the people – three draws or something like that. It was a difficult group I thought and we came through with a nice game in Russia. That was good. We felt really comfortable in this tournament…
“I think, especially in 2016, the team has showed a lot of times what they are capable of and what they could be capable of in the future. That’s a really good sign. That’s more important for me as a manager.
“But then when you perform in the right moments like we did tonight, or against Dortmund or against United or Augsburg then you want to have more. That’s what we try now.
“Europe is big and a lot of teams want to go to finals, it’s not too easy. Now we are there. It’s a great opportunity and we will take it as an opportunity,” he said.
He admitted, however, that while outstanding performances are required, the club would also need some luck to win the title.
Sir Alex Ferguson has promised Manchester United fans and ardent followers that last season’s champions’ league campaign of the Red Devils which he qualified to be disastrous will never replay itself again.
Going back a few months ago before Chelsea was crowned the new European champion, Manchester United got eliminated from the competition at the group stage after losing to Swiss side Basel, and that capped off a poor performance in their group, meanwhile the then-defending English Premier League champions were tagged favourites to lead the group, with Benfica and Romanian newcomers Otelul Galati the other teams in their pool.
The Red Devils had previously reached the final in three of the previous four editions of the tournament.
Sir Ferguson has however sent a warning message to Europe that United will not make the same mistakes again in 2012/13, that the club is ready to take back its place because the few year the club has not move far in the champions’ league competition was used an opportunity to groom the young ones coming in the line-up of the club even though last season was the worst of it because changes that were made to the team was just too much and lessons has been learnt from that mistake. He said.
Where we realised our mistake was the game against Basel at home as we could only get a draw due to our careless as we could have gone ahead to seal the game .
Ferguson is confident he has a squad capable of emulating the united teams of 1999 and 2008 by delivering another Champions League crown to Old Trafford next season.