Man City dazzle as Gabriel Jesus, John Stones lead group stage win vs. Napoli
A scintillating first half-hour laid the foundation for City's 2-1 win as a clever and resilient Napoli side forced their way back into the game thereafter, pushing City more than any other opponent so far this season.
City started where they had left off against Stoke at the weekend, with a whirlwind attacking spell that had Napoli in absolute knots. Mesmerising football, concentrated on the left flank to start, brought immediate rewards and perhaps should have delivered more before the game turned.
Tired legs? Over-confidence? Over-elaboration at the back? Or simply an opponent of a different calibre? Having done the hard work and exerted energy streaming forward for more, City were suddenly pushed back by an opponent that had spent the first 30 minutes unable to hold onto the ball and trapped inside their own half.
Manager Rating out of 10
8 -- Pep Guardiola chose exactly the same starting line-up with good reason. Saw his side play outstandingly sharp and incisive football for half an hour, then be closed down and forced backwards by a crafty and well-balanced Napoli side. Now needs to give some a rest.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Ederson, 9 -- Was already playing well, when he was asked to face a penalty. The scuffed shot by Dries Mertens came straight down the middle and he saved well with his left boot. Outstanding in his quick darts to the edge of the box and in his safe, confident handling.
DF Kyle Walker, 7 -- So far forward that his blocked shot in the box led to Raheem Sterling's early breakthrough. Was being given more food for thought at the other end, however, and despite his ability to recover quickly, he gave away the first penalty by pulling Raul Albiol back at a corner. Often left Lorenzo Insigne in too much space in the second half.
DF John Stones, 9 -- Outstanding again at the back as City's tactics unravelled in the second half. Quick to recover and nick the ball from the menacing Mertens, directing plenty of traffic from left to right and back again as City controlled possession. Somehow got his belly in front of one goal-bound shot as City almost paid dearly for their dallying. A dazzling 94 percent pass accuracy tells the story of his night.
DF Nicolas Otamendi, 7 -- Hectic time for him. Less composed with the close passing across the back but right at home with the lunging interceptions, one of which robbed Mertens before half-time and another came critically to the rescue towards the end as Napoli pressed.
DF Fabian Delph, 7 -- Calm and assured in early period, but appeared a little rattled by the second half onslaught. Overhit a pass that put Fernandinho in trouble in front of his own goal, but showed battling qualities and a calmness on the ball that was admirable.
MF Fernandinho, 8 -- An all-action game from the Brazil international. Great deal of steady possession early on, first to the loose ball when Ederson saved the first penalty and always attentive to Napoli's attacks down the flanks. Worked hard through the middle and dug out one lovely through-ball to Jesus. Blotted his copybook by giving away the second penalty, for which he was booked.
MF Leroy Sane, 6 -- Appeared to have put the wrong studs in, so often was he on the floor. Gave Albiol plenty to think about, but also lost possession far too easily. Drew a yellow for Christian Maggio.
MF Raheem Sterling, 7 -- Fast to the rebound when Walker's shot came to him early on and his cool finish put City ahead. Gave Kalidou Koulibaly plenty to think about but it's a shame he cannot arc a ball into the box like Kevin de Bruyne.
MF David Silva, 8 -- Key to releasing Leroy Sane early on, he produced the deft cut-back that led to the opening goal. Outshone Marek Hamsik early on but failed to release the ball in time when there was a chance for a third goal. Replaced by Ilkay Gundogan after a clash of heads with Elseid Hysaj.
MF Kevin de Bruyne, 8 -- Bossed the start and produced another sublime pass to set up the second goal on a plate for Jesus. One amazing left footer hit first time came back off the underside of the bar. So clever in his working of tight spaces and changing direction of attacks.
FW Gabriel Jesus, 8 -- A real lung-busting effort in chasing down the defenders all night. Touched in the second might have had a second, had Koulibaly stopped it on the line between his knees.
MF Bernardo Silva, 7 -- Arrived as a 68th minute replacement for Silva and immediately went on a terrific slalom through the middle. However, he was bypassed by a lot of the flow in the other direction.
MF Ilkay Gundogan, NR -- On for Sane after 75 minutes and found himself pushed well forward to aid a tiring Jesus.
DF Danilo, NR -- Replaced Jesus as Guardiola tried to bung some holes.
Simon is one of ESPN FC's Manchester City bloggers. Follow him on Twitter @bifana_bifana.