Gun­do­gan fires City to brink of CL quar­ters

China Daily - - HOLIDAY | SPORTS -

BASEL, Switzer­land — Manch­ester City mid­fielder Ilkay Gun­do­gan be­lieves there is still more to come from his club af­ter a “per­fect” 4-0 rout of Basel left it on the verge of the Cham­pi­ons League quar­ter­fi­nals.

The run­away Pre­mier League leader de­stroyed Basel’s morale with a three­goal burst af­ter just 23 min­utes of Tues­day’s first leg last16 mis­match.

City’s first three goals came in a dev­as­tat­ing nine-minute spell thanks to a header from Gun­do­gan, a Bernardo Silva vol­ley and a long-range Ser­gio Aguero strike.

It was Aguero’s 14th goal in 11 games in 2018.

Gun­do­gan added a fourth af­ter the break and was only de­nied a hat-trick by the dogged de­ter­mi­na­tion of Basel goal­keeper To­mas Va­clik.

The tie looks all but set­tled ahead of the re­turn leg at Eti­had Sta­dium on March 7.

Gun­do­gan said City can do bet­ter and he threw down the gaunt­let to its Cham­pi­ons League ri­vals.

“The re­sult was maybe per­fect, but there are still plenty of things to im­prove,” said the 27-year-old Ger­man, who sin­gled out City play­maker Kevin de Bruyne for his part in the open­ing goal.

“I had the op­po­nent on my back so it was not re­ally easy to head it, but the tim­ing was per­fect and the ball was per­fect from Kevin,” said Gun­do­gan.

Pep Guardi­ola’s City starved Basel of the ball, en­joy­ing 69 per­cent pos­ses­sion.

“To win 4-0 away in the last 16 is an amaz­ing re­sult, we are al­most in the quar­ter­fi­nals, 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.

“If we get to the quar­ter­fi­nals, that is al­ready bet­ter than last sea­son and that is the first step for us.”

The Spa­niard heaped praise on Gun­do­gan and his mid­field team­mates, in­clud­ing David Silva, who made a re­turn off the bench af­ter in­jury.

“Ilkay is a guy with spe­cial qual­ity, he is an amaz­ing mid­field player who has a sense for goal,” said Guardi­ola.

“He was out for six or seven months last sea­son and we missed him. He is an out­stand­ing player who doesn’t feel the pres­sure.

“Along with De Bruyne and David Silva, he gives us a fan­tas­tic mid­field trio.”

The vic­tory was City’s 34th in all com­pe­ti­tions this sea­son — one more than it man­aged all of last year.

City cap­tain Vin­cent Kom­pany made his first Cham­pi­ons League ap­pear­ance this sea­son af­ter re­cov­er­ing from a calf in­jury.

He urged his team to give them­selves a rous­ing vic­tory mar­gin in the sec­ond leg.

“If we have this game at Eti­had and it’s a 3-2 or a 2-2 draw, that won’t give us a good feel­ing to go to the next round,” said Kom­pany.

“We have showed we were the bet­ter team to­day and only for a lack of mo­ti­va­tion or ef­fort can we not do the same at home.”

Ilkay Gun­do­gan

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