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Pellegrini salutes striking duo

Manuel Pellegrini saluted his in-form strike duo of Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo after they fired Manchester City into the last 16 of the Champions League for the first time.

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The two attackers scored all the goals in City’s 5-2 win over CSKA Moscow as they guaranteed qualification with two games to go.

Aguero’s brace took his golden run to nine goals in six games while Negredo’s first City hat-trick means he now has five goals in his last three appearances.

And Pellegrini said: “Both played very, very well, not only today but all season. It is important for the team to have important strikers.

“Aguero is in a great moment, not only because he's scoring. But the whole team is playing in an offensive team and that is important. We have more chances, we scored five goals and had five or six chances more.”

Midfielders David Silva and Samir Nasri are also excelling and Pellegrini praised them for providing the supply line to his prolific strike duo.

He added: “Both of them are two important creative midfielders and they play really well. The way we are playing gives them both of freedom to play where they want, with all the movement. For the two strikers, with the way we play, it allows others of them to play very well with the ball. I think it's a mix of all.”

Pellegrini is wary of potential opponents in the knockout stages and believes his team, who have scored 12 goals in their last two games, can be a threat to anyone else.

He said: “I think so, but at this level, also every team can beat us also. There are more important teams in Spain, Italy and France, so I think we have a strong squad and well see where we can go in this Champions League.”

Meanwhile, Nasri also believes Manchester City have as much quality as any side in the Champions League and feels they are capable of troubling the favourites and mounting a long run in the competition.

Nasri told the club’s official website: “A club like Manchester City isn’t just going to be happy reaching the last 16. We want to get as far as we possibly can in this competition.

“Now we’ll focus on the Premier League but on paper, we have as much quality as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Arsenal and [Manchester] United.

“This is something that we really wanted to do for the past three years and we did it so we are very happy. As a team, we’ve progressed and even if the past two seasons have been tough and we’ve had difficult groups, if we work as a team, we have time to get better and better because the next round isn’t until February.”

The France international is in excellent form and believes City are seeing the real Nasri after a disappointing campaign last year.

The former Arsenal player had a fractious relationship with former manager Roberto Mancini but said he is “loved” again at the Etihad Stadium and believes Manuel Pellegrini merits much of the credit for the turnaround in his fortunes.

Nasri added: “Personally, I’m very happy and I think that is showing in my game. I feel loved and I’m trying my best each time I go out so it’s all positive.

“I felt good since the start of the season and since the first day I had a good talk with the manager. I want to have a great season because last year I struggled after the Euros. It wasn't the real me. I worked a lot during pre-season to be in good form and I am happy that I am performing.”


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