Raheem Sterling’s late brace ensured Manchester City topped Group D in the Champions League as they won 4-2 to eliminate Borussia Monchengladbach from European competition.
City needed to win and hope Juventus lost at Sevilla to avoid a potential draw against the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich and they took the lead when David Silva hammered home.
But Gladbach, who had not scored in either of their away Champions League matches this season, were level within two minutes when Julian Korb beat Joe Hart with a low strike.
The German side, unbeaten in their 12 matches since losing to City earlier in the campaign, took the lead before half-time, Raffael applying the finishing touch after Oscar Wendt’s cross deflected off Lars Stindl into the Brazil attacker’s path.
But Sterling, on his 21st birthday, scored twice in the last 11 minutes, finishing off Silva’s pass and then curling in from 15 yards.
Wilfried Bony tucked in the last goal of the game with six minutes to go to complete a brilliant comeback for Manuel Pellegrini’s men.
Gladbach came into the match on the back of breaking Bayern Munich’s record-breaking unbeaten start to the Bundesliga campaign with a 3-1 win and they almost took the lead after four minutes, but Korb fired over from 10 yards.
City were operating without a recognised striker due to Sergio Aguero’s latest injury but their fluid front three combined to glorious effect to create the opening goal on 15 minutes. Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne linked up to feed Silva and the Spain midfielder smashed in his first goal since August.
Schubert’s men were level within two minutes after slicing the hosts wide open with a rapid break. Fabian Johnson’s low cross found its way through the box, via Stindl’s touch, to Korb and he drove a first-time shot across Joe Hart and into the bottom corner.
Sterling and Yaya Toure had efforts from 25 yards go off target before Fabian Delph flicked a volley over the crossbar.
But Gladbach were in front shortly before half-time. City’s defence backed off and when Wendt’s cross bounced off Stindl, Raffael was on hand to turn the loose ball past Hart.
City improved after the break and almost got on level terms after a mistake from 19-year-old defender Nico Elvedi let in Sterling, but Yann Sommer spread himself to keep his team in front and the goalkeeper saved from Silva and Sterling again as City cranked up the pressure.
Sommer was saving everything that came his way, pulling off a wonderful stop diving low to his right to deny Sterling once more.
But Sterling finally got his birthday goal with 11 minutes to go, tapping home Silva’s pass from close range, and the winger was soon on target again, beating Sommer with a curling effort to put City back in the lead.
Substitute Bony struck with six minutes to go to complete a fine comeback and, courtesy of Juventus losing 1-0 in Seville, give City pride of place at the top of Group D and left Gladbach bottom of the group as two-time Europa League champions Sevilla snatched third and a chance to seal a historic hat-trick.
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