Borussia M’Gladbach lose two-nil to Man City in first leg of Champions League last 16: Match Report

Borussia Monchengladbach 0-2 Man City
UEFA Champions League Rnd of 16, First leg
24/02/21

Manchester City made it nineteen wins on the bounce as they beat Borussia Monchengladbach 2-0 in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie.

City cantered to a win through goals by Bernardo Silva and Gabriel Jesus.

The game was unable to be played in Germany and so took place at an empty Puskás Aréna, Budapest.

It was the first time in 43 years that Gladbach had stepped onto a football pitch in the knock-out stages of Europe’s premier tournament and never in the guise of the Champions League.

For City they march on. 19 wins on the bounce, Guardiola’s side last tasting defeat on Saturday 21st November against Tottenham Hotspur.

Reaction
BMG boss Marco Rose:
“We were up against a top side and we fought hard. We wanted to be brave in possession and play out of the back, but that led to a number of turnovers. It’s incredibly difficult up against this City side; you have to do a lot of defending. We should have done more to stop the crosses that led to the goals. Every pass and every run has to be spot on to score goals against a side like them.”
BMG Captain Lars Stindl: “We weren’t brave enough in possession and made some simple errors. There was a phase just after the break where we could have done more with the positions we got into, but it wasn’t to be.”
Man City boss Pep Guardiola: “Gladbach have a good side and managed to keep things tight through the middle. Our counterpress was good, but I wasn’t happy with our one-on-ones and our final ball in behind; we can do better. It’s even more important that we were clinical with our chances.”

First half: City dominate and go one up

If Gladbach had been given the chance to show off some of their attacking wares then perhaps Fohlen supporters would have had a grain of hope to feast on.

Gladbach already proved they had the ability in this their first Champions League outing in four seasons, and the club’s first ever last 16 appearance.

Only Bayern Munich had produced a better goals for column in the group stages, the Foals scoring sixteen goals in six games to get out a group that contained Inter Milan and Real Madrid.

However City, being on a win streak of eighteen, aren’t known for giving handouts right now, specially the size of a grain.

It took Manchester City six minutes to carve an opening.

As is the mystical way with Pep Guardiola’s attacks, Sterling suddenly had acres of space on the right of Yann Sommer’s box with the ball at his feet, but Mattias Ginter came across to snuff out the danger.

City may have had a shout for some early penalties with what looked like Kyle Walker and then Raheem Sterling getting held back in the box.

City’s pressure on Gladbach was so high up the field that in order to play out from the back Sommer was having to pass the ball towards his own corner flag for the defenders to find space.

One of these set plays almost ended in disaster. Sommer played the ball to Ginter who was literally on the corner flag, the defender tried to get the ball up the park, it was intercepted by Rodri. The Spanish midfielder played in Jesus who looked to be in one-on-one, however Jesus got in a mix up with Sterling and the attack fizzled out.

Gladbach’s first real chance didn’t come till almost the 20’ mark – if you could call it a chance against one of the best defences in the world.

Not only do City have the best form stats and best attacking stats, they hog records in defence as well – the Light Blues haven’t conceded in 526 minutes of Champions League football.

Stefan Lainer collected a ball over the top from Christoph Kramer on the halfway line. Lainer had a long way to go and with Aymeric Laporte eating up the ground to get back, he decided to play the ball across the box and the chance was cut out by Kyle Walker.

City would have been aggrieved not to have had a penalty on 27’. Who knows what Artur Dias was thinking not blowing his whistle when Sterling was scythed down in the box by Ramy Bensebaini.

Those complaints would be dampened by Bernardo Silva’s goal a minute later.

Guardiola’s tactics and pitchside orders can be something of the ludicrous in complexity. It was ironic then that the goal came from something so simple.

Kramer played a hopeless pass across Gladbach’s half of the pitch which was easily cut out by Joao Cancelo. The fullback crossed the ball back into the box to Bernardo Silva. The Portuguese forward peeled away from Nico Elvedi and did superb steering the ball back across and beyond Sommer.

The rest of the half played out like attack versus defence with City playing numerous intricate crosses into Gladbach’s box which were hoofed away by either Elvedi, Ginter or Zakaria.

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Gladbach’s form really was beginning to show as the match moved into the second half – the Foals have only won one of their last five in all comps.

Die Fohlen were making some really basic errors at the back.

On 54’ Bensebaini’s pass back from the left wing was well short of anything other than Gabriel Jesus. Guardiola’s reactions told the end of this sorry tale. Jesus ran at Sommer and dithered allowing Elvedi to make a recovering challenge.

Along with mistakes at the back Gladbach were poor up front. When they did get a sniff at a chance they didn’t look like taking it.

On 60’ Denis Zarakia, for once turning the tables on City and harrying the light blue defence, won the ball but his pass to play in Alassane Plea was too far ahead of the French forward.

Plea briefly exhibited the talent that has already got him five goals in the tournament, almost pulling off an audacious back heel volley to try convert Zakaria’s cross on 63’.

How quickly it swings in the cold hard world of elite football. One minute you’re inches from equalising, next minute the tie looks over.

Jesus scored City’s second on 65’.

Sterling had all the time in the world and change on the edge of Gladbach’s box. The City captain played it to Cancelo who had even more time to pick his spot at the back post – same trick as the first goal. Silva was waiting there and this time the Portuguese nodded it across goal for Jesus to tap in.

For the remainder of the game City were in cruise control. It wouldn’t have been thought that the usually deadly Marcus Thuram was on the pitch.

Thuram plays with the heart of a lion but in this case looked closer to a kitty cat sitting on the lap of the City defence.

City were in second gear, at moments shifting up a notch and playing some lovely intricate stuff – Gundogan’s nod down for Foden’s half volley the pick of the bunch.

It was such a tepid game City could use it for the continued rehabilitation of record scorer Aguero who came on with 10′ to play having missed much of the season through injury.

For Gladbach it was a game where injuries started to pile up. Hofmann went off with what looked like a bad ankle injury after dropping to the floor on a run, and Kramer was holding his hamstring with minutes to go.

The occasion was unkind to Gladbach on a night of historic significance.

MOTM: Bernardo Silva
Probably more accurate to give it to Guardiola. He has created a team of talent with any of the front five capable of being game winners. In this case it was Silva with an expertly taken goal and an assist.

B Monchengladbach, 3-5-2: Sommer (GK) – Elvedi, Ginter, Zakaria – Lainer (->62′), Bensebaini, Kramer, Hofmann (->87′), Neuhaus – Stindl (C) (->74′), Plea (->62′)
Subs: Sippel (GK), Grun (GK), Lang, Thuram (->62′), Herrmann, Wolf (->87′), Beyer, Traore, Wendt, Embolo (->74′), Lazaro (->62′), Jantschke

Man City, 4-3-3: Ederson (GK) – Walker, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo – Rodri, Gundogan, Foden – Bernardo Silva (->80′), Sterling (C) (->69′), Jesus (->80′)
Subs: Steffen (GK), Carson (GK), Stones, Aguero (->80′), Zinchenko, De Bruyne, Torres (->80′), Mendy, Fernandinho, Mahrez (->69′), Garcia, Doyle

Goals: Silva 29′, Jesus 65′

Return leg to be played Tuesday 16 March.

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