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 By Simon Curtis

Fernandinho, Fabian Delph shine in midfield for City against Shakhtar

In a match of intense ebb and flow against a well-drilled Shakhtar side, City prevailed through patience and perseverance. Although another clean sheet and plenty of good chances worked against a side of some skill and excellent character, City can be pleased with a night's work, which put them in the unusual position of being clear at the top of their group after two games.  

Manchester CityManchester City
Shakhtar DonetskShakhtar Donetsk
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City recovered from a first half in which Shakhtar's positioning and energy provided plenty of puzzles for the home side to work out. Reorganised and re-energised at half-time, the breakthrough came quickly, and thereafter, the visitors found themselves with an uphill task against City's slick passing.  


When the fussy referee Jorge Sousa finally gave in and awarded a penalty -- that in fact should not have been given -- City missed the chance to put some clear air between themselves and their opponents. It took until the 90th minute to seal the victory, but the supporters' nerves could have been saved by taking one more of a clutch of earlier chances.   

Manager rating out of 10

8 -- Pep Guardiola chose to stick with the relatively inexperienced (on the European front at least) Fabian Delph, resisting the obvious temptation to play Danilo, and was rewarded with a mature performance by the stand-in. Another half-time pep talk (and reshuffle) made a clear difference too.

Player ratings: (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Ederson Moraes, 8 -- What a difference a confident, competent goalkeeper makes. Fast passes out to Delph and Sane early on were a precursor to a range of fantastic throw-outs in the second half, one of which put Sane straight through in the opposition half for the penalty decision. Still on the ball in injury time to make an alert save and maintain the clean sheet.

DF Kyle Walker, 6 -- Left with plenty to think about by the whippet-like Bernard and Ismaily on City's right flank, he was shunted further forward at the start of the second period and it paid immediate dividends.    

DF John Stones, 7 -- Solid and in control despite the flurry of fast feet coming at him throughout. No hesitation in smashing it into touch if the agricultural approach was needed, which was only rarely the case in a cultured display.

DF Nicolas Otamendi, 7 -- Likewise, played a calm part in stemming the white and orange tide of pattering feet. Got a foot in when it was needed and produced a couple of great diagonal balls out to the wings.

DF Fabian Delph, 8 -- Took to top level European football like a duck to water. Played left side of defence and was faultless in his calm distribution and accurate link-up play with David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne.  

MF Fernandinho, 9 -- An Experienced head in a midfield blur of tricky and talented countrymen in opposition. Involved in a fascinating battle to hold midfield ground throughout, he did himself proud against his old teammates.  

Kevin De Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne's long-range strike finally gave City a lead and masked what was an uneven day individually for the Belgian.

MF Leroy Sane, 8 -- Dozy start developed quickly into an eventful night. A series of devastating runs down the left flank ensued, but carried the ball too long on several occasions and wanted to finish off too many of the chances he was constantly creating. Despite the faults, a constant threat out wide.    

MF David Silva, 8 -- Always ready to feed Sane down the left or cut in and swap passes with De Bruyne in a more central position. Surrounded by mini clones, he was still the original master at keeping possession and using it intelligently.

MF Kevin De Bruyne, 7 -- Had already dragged a first-half chance wide, when he started and finished the move for 1-0. Prodigious strike masked the fact that he has played much better than this on many occasions.    

FW Sergio Aguero, 6 -- Had four chances to overtake Eric Brook's all-time scoring record, but, even when presented with a penalty, he did not look confident and had his weak shot palmed away by Andriy Pyatov.

FW, Gabriel Jesus, 6 -- Quiet night for the Brazilian who was replaced by Raheem Sterling after only 53 minutes.   


MF, 7 Raheem Sterling -- Arrived early in the second period and should have scored straight away, skewing a tremendous chance wide with his left foot. Put away his second chance but even that went in off the crossbar. Direct running troubled a tired defence.

MF, Ilkay Gundogan, NR -- First touch led to a sprightly 70-yard run and set up Sane perfectly late on with a slide-rule pass that his countryman squandered selfishly. No after-effects to the nasty-looking injury against West Brom.

MF Bernardo Silva, NR -- Highly energetic cameo from the wiry Portuguese, setting up Sterling for the clincher after a great run in from the right flank.    

Simon is one of ESPN FC's Manchester City bloggers. Follow him on Twitter @bifana_bifana.


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