Manuel Pellegrini hailed the impact of match-winner Raheem Sterling after his two late goals earned Manchester City a 4-2 victory at home to Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League on Tuesday.
City’s dramatic victory, coupled with Juventus’ 1-0 loss at Sevilla, ensured Pellegrini’s side finished top of Group D, but they trailed 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium with 11 minutes to go.
Sterling had been denied on multiple occasions by Gladbach goalkeeper Yann Sommer but the attacker, celebrating his 21st birthday, struck twice within three minutes to turn the game around.
“It’s his birthday and the minimum I told him he had to do was score two goals – I’m not joking!” Pellegrini said.
Sterling tucked in David Silva’s pass before curling a superb effort beyond Sommer to put City in front, with Wilfried Bony adding a late fourth to seal the victory.
Silva had put City in front after just 15 minutes but Gladbach hit back through Julian Korb and Raffael to lead at half-time.
“What was most important was to qualify. After that it was important to finish top of the group,” said Pellegrini.
“It’s better not to play against the likes of Bayern Munich and Barcelona.”
Pellegrini added that it was one of the best European nights Manchester City have had, noting: “We played very well in Sevilla also.”