Manchester City 2
Shakhtar Donetsk 0
OKAY, so it wasn’t the usual four or five goal victory we are getting used to.
It was never the walkover which the home fans expected. But 2-0 will do very nicely, thank you, as the Etihad men now top Group F, three points above Shakhtar.
However, Pep Guardiola’s boys made it so hard for themselves against the more-than-useful Ukrainians.
Chance after chance went begging. And Sergio Aguero squandered a bagful of opportunities – including a second-half penalty miss – which would have made him City’s greatest-ever goalscorer.
It was left to workhorse Kevin de Bruyne to spare the Blues’ blushes two minutes after the restart when he drove home a piledriver via the underside of the bar.
But a one-goal lead never looked enough with the ever-present danger of City being hit with a Shakhtar sucker punch.
Indeed, it took until the 90th minutes for substitute Raheem Sterling to score the second goal that Guardiola must have feared would never come.
One City player determined to have a good game – and he did – was Fernandinho.
The Brazilian, who left Shakhtar after eight year to join City in 2013, hugged several of his former team-mates before the kick-off.
“It was so nice to see my old friends,” he said. “But obviously, we had a job to do.”
None worked harder to achieve that job – and give City their second Champions League win this season – than Fabian Delph, who played as a makeshift left back.
“He was the man of the match,” said Guardiola. “He is intelligent, physical . . . and never loses the ball.”
Pep’s relief at the final result was evident when he said: “We had problems in the first half when we did not make enough passes . . . but the second half was much, much better.
“We are so happy for the win.”