MAN CITY 5, CSKA MOSCOW 2
What a contrast to 12 months ago as Manchester City qualified for the knockout phase of the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history with two games to spare.
City, who failed to win a group game last season as they made an early exit from Europe’s premier club competition, made no mistake this time.
This time three wins from four matches has earned them a place in the last 16 as they qualified in style against CSKA Moscow.
Manager Manuel Pellegrini was delighted saying: “I am very, very happy to achieve what the club didn’t do for the last two years.
“It is not easy to reach the round of 16, but we have done so two games before the end of the group.
“The first target this year was to be in the round of 16 and to be in that stage is very important for the club.”
A hat trick from Alvaro Negredo and two goals from Sergio Aguero continued City’s rich vein of form as they plundered 12 goals in successive home game having put seven past hapless Norwich City on Saturday.
It was not simply the victory but the scintillating football they played as there were spells when City were untouchable.
Pellegrini continued: “We scored five goals and had five or six other chances.
“Negrego and Aguero have been playing well, not just tonight but all season. We have scored 12 goals here in the last two games which is very important.”
“It is important to have strikers scoring, but it is also important the way the team is playing.”
City could not have wished for a better start as they won a penalty with little over two minutes played after David Silva was tripped by Zoran Tosic near the by-line.
Aguero stepped forward to score from the spot, his 12th goal of the season as he also found the net for a sixth successive match.
City made it 2-0 midway through the half, and it was Aguero who struck again with his ninth goal in six games.
Samir Nasri provided the assist for Aguero who turned a defender with consummate ease before firing home a low shot.
And half an hour it was 3-0 with Aguero this time the provider with a low cross from the right to the far post for Negredo to slot home.
Moscow cut the deficit in first half stoppage time when they split City’s defence and Seydou Doumbia burst clean through beating Martin Demichelus and rounding keeper Costel Pantilimon before walking the ball into the net.
City resumed normal service scoring a fourth goal within six minutes of the restart when Yaya Toure and Nasri combined to provide Negredo with his second of the night and eighth of the campaign on a plate from inside the six-yard box.
Moscow scored a second with 18 minutes left as City conceded a penalty after Gael Clichy pulled back Doumbia as the Ivory Coast striker picked himself up to score from the spot.
City had chances to add to their goal tally, notably when Negredo had a great opening to complete his hat trick. He flicked the ball over the head of Aleksei Berezutski before seeing his volley from the edge of the box narrowly clear the crossbar.
And in stoppage time, City added a fifth goal when Negredo completed his treble heading home a left-wing cross from substitute James Milner.