When Manchester City and AS Monaco were drawn together in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16, City supporters were rightfully worried. Monaco were one of the best scoring teams in all of Europe and saying City’s defense has been poor this season is being extremely nice. Those fears were justified when Monaco popped in two goals in the first half Tuesday night at the Etihad.
However, part of the fabric of Manchester City’s history has been to keep fighting until the end and despite falling behind 2-1 and 3-2, City were able to score three unanswered goals in the second half, securing a first leg 5-3 victory for the home side. Conceding three away goals is obviously a concern, but City should be in control going into the match in Monaco.
Raheem Sterling opened the scoring for City after what was a tremendous passing and dribbling combination between Leroy Sané and David Silva. Sergio Agüero then was the beneficiary of poor goalkeeping when his low shot eluded Monaco’s keeper to tie the game at two. With City down again Agüero, now clearly more confident, struck in a sweet volley on a corner to bring City level again. After that John Stones and Leroy Sané put exclamation points on what many City fans were calling City’s finest night in Europe to date.
Below are the ratings as well as our Man of the Match.
Willy Caballero: 8.0 (Man of the Match)
Let me explain. In a game that was full of momentum swings and both teams doing their best to score ten or more goals, Caballero’s penalty save might have saved City’s Champions League hopes. The game took a noticeable turn after Agüero was booked for diving and a second noticeable turn after Caballero’s penalty save. After Caballero made that save to keep the game at 2-1 City just went on to score four goals and conceded one to Monaco. Big Willy Style was our man of the match.
Bacary Sagna: 6.5
On what was such a glorious night for City, supporters and the coaches mustn't lose hindsight that the defense was still poor. Sagna struggled but was still probably the pick of the bunch.
John Stones: 6.0
The Englishman clearly struggled the majority of the night but part of it might have been the communication with his partner Otamendi, which wasn't good enough to deal with Monaco’s two striker formation. Hopefully Pep can address what was a clear lack of understanding between his two center-backs.
Nicolas Otamendi: 5.5
Giving away a penalty is never a good thing, though considering Caballero made the save and City went on to win maybe Otamendi deserves more points. With Aleksandar Kolarov seemingly preferred when healthy, Otamendi’s days might be numbered in Manchester.
Poor Fernandinho, who had done jobs at both full-back positions against lower Premier League sides but just wasn't up to snuff again high flying Monaco. Hindsight is always 20/20, but Pep might regret not starting with four natural defenders even if that meant playing Sagna out of position.
Yaya Touré: 8.0
Here’s where the numbers are really going to start to climb. Yaya Touré has been a total revelation under Pep, so much so that the man supporters were convinced would be gone before this year began is now being considered for an extension and is no doubt an integral part of City’s success. Football is weird sometimes.
David Silva: 9.0
This man, my God. David Silva might be the most under appreciated man in all of England. City fans know of his brilliance but he doesn’t get the same star treatment some others players get. He’s not in your FIFA team of the week or UEFA group stage team, but Silva is simply one of the best.
Kevin De Bruyne: 7.0
De Bruyne’s numbers skew lower but that doesn’t mean the Belgian isn't making a positive impact. De Bruyne’s movement without the ball might be second to none the way he can open up paths for his teammates and Sané and Sterling are starting to learn from him, which could make City the deadliest offensive team in the country.
Raheem Sterling: 9.0
At only 22 years old, it’s amazing what Sterling has achieved in his career. This despite most of his home country seemingly rooting for him to fail. After a subpar second half of last season, Sterling most certainly looks like the $50 million man City paid for now.
Leroy Sané: 9.0
After a slow start to life at the Etihad something clearly clicked for the young German sometime around December. Since then Sané has been tormenting full-backs in whatever competition he plays in. It’s easy to see why Pep is considering extending his Etihad stay when he has Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sané at their respective ages of 22 and 21.
Sergio Agüero: 9.0
I’ll address the elephant first. In my predicted lineup I suggested Agüero sit on the bench because his time at City might be coming to an end. Well what we saw on Tuesday is what great players do, they play so well you have to acknowledge their greatness. Agüero finished the night with two goals and an assist, and finally looked confident and ready to get stuck into the game. If this is the Agüero that showed up for ninety minutes in every game, City could just make some runs in their three remaining competitions.