City 7 Schalke 0 (10-2 agg) Pep's men in seventh heaven en route to record-equalling win
Peng He|March. 12, 2019
THIS lot are going Fahr.
Manchester City, putting five past Schalke’s overworked keeper, have discovered their Champions League mojo.
There is an air of menace about them.
City turned it on at will, setting up chances whenever the mood took them in front of their approving fans.
This is City’s biggest, most emphatic victory, in the Champions League.
It could have been many more.
Schalke keeper Ralf Fahrmann – chipped, nutmegged and humiliated in a jaw-dropping seven-minute spell in the first half, was hopelessly exposed out there.
His defence left him to it after the break when City’s forward line went in search of more.
They got four more and only stopped when Gabriel Jesus flicked an effort beyond chocolate wrists fives minutes from time.
Schalke, beaten by Raheem Sterling’s last-minute winner in the first leg, could not live with this calibre of opposition.
Sergio Aguero, scoring a delicious Panenka to put City in front from the penalty spot and then placing his eye-of-the-needle effort between the keeper’s legs, was exceptional.
City’s next scored 43 minutes into this straightforward second leg, pinged off the boot of Leroy Sane.
They got the fourth after 58 minutes when Raheem Sterling swept a rising ball beyond Fahrmann.
The fifth arrived off the boot of Bernardo Silva when he placed his effort calmly beyond the Schalke keeper 72 minutes in.
City are Champions League quarter-finalists, still on course for an historic quadruple under their demanding head coach.
Pep got them playing out there last night.
They should be saluted for that because the hard work was done when they won that dramatic first leg in Gelsenkirchen.
City’s tails are up.
They scored the opener, via a penalty, when former Chelsea kid Jeffrey Bruma took out Bernardo Silva.
It took nearly three minutes before Aguero finally got round to placing the ball on the penalty spot.
His chip, a nod in the direction of Antonin Panenka’s subtle clip in the 1976 European Championship final for Czechoslovakia, looked effortless.
It helped that Fahrmann went so early, guessing to his left just as Aguero gave him the eyes.
The subtlety of the touch, floating towards the nylon goalnetting, set up City for this handsome win.
They are a good-looking team, easy on the eye as they continue to string together some important wins.
This turned out to be very routine.
There will have to be yet another round of VAR debate after Aguero megged Fahrmann for his second after 38 minutes.
VAR-fatigue is already setting in, but needs must.
To the naked eye, Sterling looked to be just onside when he collected Ilkay Gundogan’s lofted pass.
Sterling made it to the byline, backheeling his ball into the path of the onrushing figure of Aguero.
He was rewarded for sheer persistence, rampaging his way through the Schalke defence before nutmegging Fahrmann.
The shame is that VAR intervened, delaying the decision for an interminable two-and-a-half minutes before it was all cleared up.
There were boos and jeers around the stadium during the wait, with punters striking up idle convo until the final result came in: Computer said no.
Poor Fahrmann had barely recovered when City launched another attack before half-time to make it three-zip.
Oleksandr Zinchenko played a wonderful pass inside Weston McKennie, giving Sane the encouragement to fly past him.
The City forward picked his spot, comfortably placing his effort beyond Schalke’s skipper to make it 3-0.
To their credit, they kept going.
Nobody would have cared if City had stopped there, resting up ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final at Swansea.
Crucially, they are also in the last eight of the Champions League.
This was ominous, a warning to the rest of Europe – FFP breach or not - that they are not about to quietly slip away.
There was a roar when Sterling scored, hitting a rising ball beyond Fahrmann when Sane picked him out with an inviting pass.
This time the VAR review was short and swift, clearing the way for City to add another two more.
They got them,
Zinchenko was involved yet again, sending a pass into Sane hovering out on the left.
He took out a touch and had time to look up, wrong-footing Schalke’s disinterested defence and passing into Bernardo’s path.
The City forward scored, deftly sending the fifth beyond poor old Fahrmann.
He was nowhere near the sixth, dispatched off the talented feet of Foden 12 minutes from time.
Schalke were done for the night.
Zinchenko, outstanding with these outside-in passes beyond defenders, found Sane again.
The City man set Foden free, taking a step back to admire the little wizard whacking the sixth into the net.
There was time for one more, scored when Bernardo picked out Gabriel lurking on the edge of the area.
Schalke tossed it off, giving up long before Gabriel equalled Bayern Munich’s record 7-0 wins against Basle and Shakhtar Donetsk in the knockout phase.
After this, nothing seems Fahr-fetched.