RAHEEM Sterling celebrated his 21st birthday in style as his quick-fire double helped Manchester City to top their UEFA Champions League group for the first time.

A disappointing defeat to Stoke just three days earlier had saw Manuel Pellegrini’s men surrender top spot in the Premier League, however they made no mistake this time out to leapfrog Juventus in group D.

Borussia Monchengladbach, a side who have conceded more goals in the last 15 minutes than any other team this term, had led 2-1 at the break.

Sterling’s three minute brace and Wilfried Bony’s late effort saw the home side score three goals in the final quarter of an hour to turn the game around.

It seemed like the Germans were going to rain on City’s parade as they started brightly with their fluent attacking play, but it was the hosts who led 15 minutes in.

Sterling’s clever back heel set David Silva free with the Spaniard’s emphatic finish firing into the roof of the net from a cute angle.

It was a lead that lasted just three minutes though, as Monchengladbach hit straight back with a penetrating attack led by winger Fabian Johnson. He combined well with Lars Stindl to race into some space, with Julian Korb meeting his low pass across the face of the goal with a brilliant strike which found the bottom corner.

Andre Schubert’s side then limited their opponents to ambitious efforts from outside the area, as Sterling and Yaya Toure lifted long range shots well over the bar.

With four minutes remaining in the half they had a golden opportunity though, as Fernandinho fired a perfect ball in behind the defensive line only for Nico Elvedi to turn the cross behind as Sterling looked to pounce at the back post.

They were punished within a minute as a free-flowing move from the back saw the Germans advance up the field, with Stindl’s effort from outside the box deflecting into the path of Oscar Wendt out-wide. He played in a low cross which Johnson touched onto Raffael, with the striker’s deft finish sending the away side into the break 2-1 ahead.

City came out strong at the start of the second half and were in control from the off.

Sterling had a couple of great chances to level the scores as he couldn’t capitalise on Elvedi’s poor attempt to usher a Fernandinho cross towards his goalkeeper. Soon after Yann Sommer pulled off a fantastic save to stop his volley which looked destined for the bottom corner.

After probing for the majority of the second half they finally got their breakthrough on 79 minutes, as Sterling’s persistence payed off with Gael Clichy’s cross being guided home by the forward from close range.

He had a second just two minutes later when Silva’s header was held up well by substitute Bony, and the supporting Sterling was on hand to place past Sommer.

Five minutes from time Bony grabbed a goal of his own when his first effort struck Havard Nordtveit and fell back at his feet, with the striker making no mistake with his second attempt.

That sealed a hard-fought 4-2 victory which ended Monchengladbach’s 12 match unbeaten run, with Sevilla’s 1-0 win over Juventus sending Pellegrini’s side to the top of the group.

Manchester City (4-2-3-1): Hart; Clichy (Sagna ’80), Otamendi, Mangala, Kolarov; Fernandinho, Delph (Bony ’65); Yaya Toure (c), Silva, De Bruyne (Navas ’65); Sterling.
Subs not used: Caballero, Maffeo, Adarabioyo, Celina.
Goals: Silva (15), Sterling (79, 81), Bony (85)

Borussia Monchengladbach (3-5-2): Sommer; Christensen, Nordtveit, Elvedi; Wendt (Hazard ’84), Dahoud (Shulz ’66), Xhaka (c), Korb, Johnson (Drmic ’72); Raffael, Stindl.
Subs not used: Heimeroth, Brouwers, Jantschke, Hrgota.
Goals: Korb (18), Raffael (42)

Referee: Danny Makkelie

Att: 41,829

By: Sean Hayes

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *