Manchester City’s biggest Champions League win leaves them on the brink of qualification for the last 16 as they ran riot against a helpless Shakhtar Donetsk side.
Gabriel Jesus’ first hattrick for the club, alongside strikes from David Silva, Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez saw the Cityzens thrash Shakhtar Donetsk 6-0 at the Etihad, but an injury-time equaliser from 10-man Hoffenheim clinched a 2-2 draw with Lyon and denied City passage into the knockout rounds with two games to spare. Man City will, however, be group winners with one game left if they beat Lyon in a fortnight’s time.
The Cityzens’ result eclipses their 5-0 away success against Steaua Bucharest in the first leg of a play-off tie in August 2016.
City captain Silva opened the scoring within a quarter or an hour; the Spaniard tapping in Mahrez’s low cross. Then, just ten minutes later, came one of the most bizarre incidents of the season.
Viktor Kassai, who officiated the 2011 Champions League final between Barcelona and Manchester United, stunned both City and Shakhtar by awarding a penalty to Raheem Sterling. The winger burst into the area after evading Shakhtar defender Mykola Matviyenko.
Goalkeeper Pyatov advanced to narrow the angle and, as he did so, Sterling set himself to shoot but kicked the turf and fell to the ground.
The winger didn’t appeal for a penalty, but the officials were blinded and awarded the spot kick. Pyatov burst into laughter when he saw it had been given and, to compound the referee’s misjudgment, City boss Pep Guardiola appeared to tell the fourth official that it was the wrong decision.
Having been forced off the ball by Riyad Mahrez at Anfield less than a month ago, Jesus cooly converted the penalty and kick-started his hattrick search in the process.
Kassai did get one penalty decision correct as Silva was clumsily brought down by Taras Stepanenko before Jesus scored his second penalty of the evening to make it 4-0 after Sterling span beautifully between three Donetsk players before curling a superb effort into the far corner from the edge of the box.
Mahrez then controlled Ilkay Gündogan’s pass calmly on his chest and shot low past Pyatov for City’s fifth before Jesus sealed his hat-trick as Mahrez turned from finisher to provider.
City have now scored twelve goals in just four days on home soil and, having rested key stars such as Sergio Agüero and Bernardo Silva, Guardiola will have a full-strength squad to pick from for the biggest game of the season so far; Sunday’s visit of Manchester United.
Man of the Match – Gabriel Jesus
Not only did the Brazilian score his first City hattrick, he was also instrumental in his side’s overall dominance. Considering his small stature, the young forward held us own against a larger Donetsk defence not just technically, but also physically.
Playing in the shadow of the club’s record goalscorer cannot be easy at the best of times, but Jesus is learning from one of the best strikers in English football history and if he is to make an appearance against United on Sunday, count on him to leave his mark.