Manchester City took a huge step towards their first Champions League quarter-final with a 3-1 win against Dynamo Kiev at NSK Olimpiyskiy.
Manuel Pellegrini fielded his strongest-possible starting line-up after resting senior players for Sunday’s FA Cup thrashing at Chelsea and Sergio Aguero took just 15 minutes to make his mark when he scored his 16th goal in 17 starts in the competition.
Kiev’s last competitive fixture came in the group stage against Maccabi Tel Aviv on December 9 and they were comfortably second-best to City in the first half, who doubled their lead when David Silva finished a fine team move.
City were the only side in the last 16 who failed to keep a clean sheet in the group stage, and their defence was breached for the ninth Champions League game in a row when Vitaliy Buyalskiy’s shot deflected in off Nicolas Otamendi.
The visitors remained compact to keep Dynamo’s attack – and Andriy Yarmolenko in particular – largely frustrated, while Joe Hart made a fine late stop to deny Buyalskiy a second and preserve City’s lead.
And Yaya Toure took advantage of his goalkeeper’s efforts with a stunning late third goal that will see City head into the return leg at the Etihad Stadium confident of a spot in the last eight.
Yarmolenko forced Hart to tip the ball onto the top of the crossbar after City failed to clear a free-kick, as Kiev started promisingly in front of a vociferous support – returning after a UEFA-imposed absence in their side’s final group game.
But City quickly found their feet and capitalised on dismal home defending to snatch the lead. Silva’s corner was nodded down by Toure and Aguero was allowed time and space to chest the ball down and smash past Oleksandr Shovkovskiy from just six yards out.
Aguero fizzed a shot just wide and Toure forced Shovkovskiy into a smart low stop on the break, but another slick passing move doubled City’s lead before the break. Aguero brought down Gael Clichy’s clip into the left channel and backheeled the ball into the path of Raheem Sterling, who crossed for Silva to tap in at the far post.
Aguero dragged a shot wide after being played through one-on-one by Fernandinho before Fernando nodded Silva’s free-kick over from six yards as City pressed on before the break.
Yarmolenko arrowed an effort past the far post as Dynamo looked for a lifeline early in the second half, and a stroke of fortune handed them just that with 58 minutes played. Otamendi’s clearing header bounced out to Buyalskiy, whose half-volley from the edge of the area took a deflection off the centre-back and nestled into the corner.
Silva was denied a penalty shout after a challenge from Danilo Silva but Pellegrini’s side had lost their grip on the contest as they began to be pegged back by Dynamo, who saw substitute Miguel Veloso just fail to control Yarmolenko’s pass with the visitors outnumbered at the back.
Fernandinho had his own penalty appeals waved away when he went to ground after twisting his way into the area and City had Hart to thank at the other end as he saved superbly low to his right to deny Buyalskiy.
Toure headed wide from just five yards out but the Ivorian made amends to put City in the driving seat with the goal of the game in the dying minutes, playing a neat one-two with Fernandinho before bending a shot left-footed beyond Shovkovskiy from the edge of the area.
Key Opta stats:
– Manchester City are the first English team to win an away Champions League game against Ukrainian opposition since Manchester United versus Dynamo Kiev in October 2007.
– None of Manchester City’s 35 Champions League games have ended goalless. They’ve kept just four clean sheets in 35 CL games.
– Raheem Sterling has had a hand in five goals in his last four Champions League games (three goals, two assists).
– David Silva scored in consecutive Champions League appearances for the first time.
– Yaya Toure ended a run of 730 minutes without a Champions League goal.