Sergio Agüero made history on Wednesday evening as he scored in Manchester City’s 4-2 victory over Napoli at the San Paolo in the Champions League.
The mercurial Argentine became City’s all-time record goal-scorer as he netted in the second half to confirm the Premier League leaders’ progression to the knock-out stage of the UEFA Champions League. Napoli actually took the lead in Italy as Lorenzo Insigne finished well beyond Ederson in the 21st minute.
Defensive pairing Nicolás Otamendi and John Stones both netted with headers to snatch the lead before the Italians equalised via a Jorginho penalty. Agüero scored the decisive goal in the second half to ensure City’s qualification while Napoli’s elimination at the group stage is looking likely going into the final two match-days. Raheem Sterling added gloss to the evening as City ran out deserved winners.
Insigne curls home
Napoli flew out of the blocks quickly as they displayed their trademark attacking flair yet again. Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne both tested Ederson from close range but the Brazilian seemed untroubled as he collected the ball on each occasion.
The two were not to be denied though as they combined to open the scoring in the 21st minute. Following a quick one-two between the pair, Insigne tore down on the Manchester City goal and curled an excellent effort beyond the goalkeeper and into the far corner of the net from close range.
The hosts though soon suffered a problem as defender Faouzi Ghoulam was withdrawn through injury and had to be replaced by Christian Maggio.
City push for equaliser before break
Pep Guardiola’s men almost exploited Napoli’s misfortune as they went only inches away from getting level. Kevin De Bruyne broke down field and passed to Raheem Sterling on the right-wing. The Englishman cut back to Sergio Agüero but the Argentine hitman could only squirm his shot just wide.
İlkay Gündoğan then went near as his powerful effort was deflected over the bar by Kalidou Koulibaly. City eventually equalised though from the resulting corner. Connecting with a cross from the German midfielder, Nicolás Otamendi powered his header into the back of the net as he rose beyond the Napoli defence.
His defensive partner, John Stones, should then really have snatched the lead for the Premier League leaders as he sent a header of his own crashing against the crossbar to the relief of the home fans as half-time approached.
Citizens fire from the off
Much as their hosts began the first period, the Citizens kicked-off the second-half in a terrific manner. Sterling was only halted thanks to a great block from Elseid Hysaj. Yet again though, Guardiola’s men could only be stopped momentarily as they again scored from the following corner and it was Stones who found the net.
The English defender headed towards goal and again saw the ball hit the crossbar for the second time. This time however, the ball bounced over the line and following a brief moment, the referee awarded the goal; Stones’ third strike of the 2017/18 Champions League campaign.
They were still vulnerable though as Insigne crashed a shot off the crossbar from range with Ederson looking stranded.
Maurizio Sarri’s men did indeed get their chance to equalise from the penalty spot mid-way through the second half. Following a swipe of the boot from Leroy Sané, the German caught Raúl Albiol and referee Felix Brych did not hesitate in pointing to the spot. Midfielder Jorginho then stepped up and coolly stroked the ball home.
José Callejón found acres of room in the City penalty area but his shot was deflected away by Ederson as both sides battled for the lead.
Sergio Agüero soon had his name in lights as he became the club’s all-time top goalscorer. Breaking from a Napoli attack, the former Atletico Madrid frontman picked up the ball from Sané, raced forwards and buried beyond Reina from just inside the area.
Raheem Sterling notched an excellent goal in the closing stages to secure the three points as Napoli committed men forwards. The Englishman was given time to pick his spot and bury into the far corner past Reina.
Whilst Manchester City deserved the win at the San Paolo, it certainly was not easy on the night. The attacking intent of both outfits was blistering, producing a truly entertaining match. The two teams continued to exchange blows all evening until Agüero struck with his historic goal.
The result confirms City’s progression with only four games gone whilst Napoli have to beat Shaktar Donetsk and Feyenoord in the final two games to avoid dropping into the Europa League.
Napoli: Reina (5); Hysaj (5), Albiol (6), Koulibaly (6), Ghoulam (6) (Maggio (5), 31′); Allan (6) (Rog (5), 75′), Jorginho (7) (Ounas (N/A), 82′), Hamšík (6); Callejón (5), Mertens (7), Insigne (8).
Manchester City: Ederson (6); Danilo (6), Stones (8), Otamendi (7), Delph (7); Fernandinho (7), Gündoğan (7) (D. Silva (6), 71′), De Bruyne (7); Sané (7) (Jesus (N/A), 90′), Sterling (7), Agüero (7) (B. Silva (6), 76′).
Goals: Insigne (21′), Otamendi (34′), Stones (48′), Jorginho PEN (62′), Agüero (69′), Sterling (90+2′)
Referee: Felix Brych
Yellow Cards: Otamendi (90+1′), Mertens (90+4′), Koulibaly (90+4′)
Red Cards: N/A
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