Budapest – Premier League leaders Manchester City closed in on the Champions League quarter-finals after cruising past Borussia Moenchengladbach witha comfortable 2-0 win in Wednesday’s Champions League last 16, first leg tie in Budapest.
A first half header from Bernardo Silva and a Gabriel Jesus strike in the second extended a winning streak by Pep Guardiola’s high-flying side to 19 games in all competitions.
With six changes from the side which started Sunday’s win over Arsenal City camped inside the Gladbach half for most of the game, moved to Hungary due to Germany’s Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Although clear favourites City took time to break down a stubborn German defence however, often foiled by the interceptions of Algeria left-back Ramy Bensebaini.
Debutants in the Champions League knockout stages, a nervy Gladbach had been urged by coach Marco Rose to be brave against Guardiola’s side.
Although France’s Alassane Plea was almost through on goal on 20 minutes after a rare counterattack, deep-lying Gladbach succumbed to the mounting pressure in the 29th minute.
A sublime inch-perfect cross by Portuguese defender Joao Cancelo curled over the defence from the left to reach his compatriot Silva who flicked a close-range header past Yann Sommer.
The 26-year-old Cancelo, impressive throughout, nearly doubled the lead five minutes from the break but his shot from just outside the box pinged over the bar.
Early in the second half Jesus should have converted after latching on to a poorly judged backpass by Bensebaini but saw his shot blocked by Swiss defender Nico Elvedi.
Apart from a lunging backheel from Plea that flashed just wide of Ederson’s far post on the hour mark, City comfortably contained the Germans, and went two up in the 65th minute.
Another majestic cross-field pass by Cancelo again found Silva who this time headed back across the goalmouth for Jesus to fire home and seal City’s 19th successive victory.
The loss in the Puskas Arena leaves Gladbach, who managed just one shot on target throughout the game, needing a near miracle in the return leg scheduled for March 16 in Manchester. — AFP