Basel, Feb 14 (IANS) Manchester City lived up to their billing by clobbering Basel 4-0 here in the first leg of their Champions League pre-quarterfinal tie, making the reverse fixture in England almost a formality.
The hosts, seen as the weakest side in the round of 16, on Tuesday were simply no match for a City squad that leads the English Premier League (EPL) by 16 points, reports Efe.
City chief coach Pep Guardiola made only two changes to the line-up that routed Leicester City 5-1 last weekend in domestic play, adding veteran central defender Vincent Kompany — seeing his first Champions League action in nearly two years — and Fabian Delph.
Basel withstood the Man City offensive machine for 13 minutes before conceding a trio of goals in nine minutes.
The onslaught began with German midfielder Ilkay Gündogan, who got his head to a Kevin de Bruyne corner kick. Before Basel could catch their breath, it was 2-0 for the visitors thanks to a strike in the 17th minute by Portuguese winger Bernando Silva.
Argentine centre-forward Sergio Agüero, fresh off his four-goal performance against Leicester, tucked the ball just inside the post to put the hosts down 3-0 in the 22nd minute.
Basel showed a brief flicker of life after the half-time break, but Gündogan produced his second goal of the night in the 53rd minute to shut the door.
With the match settled, Guardiola took the opportunity to rest De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling and give playing time to David Silva and Leroy Sane, both just back from injury.
“Four-zero away — it’s amazing result, but the Champions League is 180 minutes in total,” Guardiola was quoted as saying by City’s website.
“We are almost there in the quarter-finals. I’m not saying it’s done but we’ve had an amazing result. We defended the long balls quite well, but we were clinical today.”