Raheem Sterling, what a player and what a performance.
The Englishman guided Manchester City to a comfortable 5-1 win over Atalanta, bagging a hat-trick inside 11 minutes to help earn his side all three points.
Before a ball had even been kicked, many were quick to write off the away side as they came into the game having lost their first two matches in the Champions League this term.
But, they were the highest-scoring team in the Serie A last season. Oh, and they are the top scorers again this season. That’s quite something.
So guess what? They came to play and that was very clear right from the off. They capitalised on City’s slow start and had a few chances in the opening exchanges…
The early warning signs were there, weren’t they?
Rodri appeared as though he forgot he was playing centre-back, while Kyle Walker seemingly forgot how to defend altogether. As a result, chances were aplenty on the counter for Atalanta.
On 27 minutes, Josip Ilicic broke forward once more and chopped inside Fernandinho, who hacked him down. The referee pointed to the spot and up stepped
Mendy losing the ball high up led to that. He was miles out of position which left acres of space on the left #mcfc
— David Lamb (@dlamb75) October 22, 2019
Sloppy from Fernandinho. A player of his experience and quality should know not to dangle his leg out there in the box. Atlanta convert the penalty and take the lead 1-0. #MCFC
— ManCityzens (@ManCityzenscom) October 22, 2019
But, when you have players of the calibre of Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero, it can all change in the blink of an eye.
Well, guess what.
They combined to great effect to draw the Sky Blues level…
Slick #mcfc move, ball skimming between De Bruyne, Foden, Gundogan, Sterling before Aguero cleverly steers in equaliser. 1-1. #MCIATA ,
— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) October 22, 2019
Raheem beauty of a ball to Ageuro there and great movement from the striker. As you were #mcfc #UCL
— Steph Brawn (@BrawnJourno) October 22, 2019
The Citizens were getting into their stride and that spelt trouble for Atalanta.
It was trouble. Sterling broke forward at searing pace only four minutes later, before being bundled to the ground in the area.
It was City’s chance to score from the spot this time, which Aguero did (of course, he did).
Normality was resumed…
Indeed Atalanta had poked the bear…and it woke up.
Man City were ruthless as they extended their lead shortly after the restart, with Kevin De Bruyne bursting past two defenders before feeding Phil Foden, who calmly set up Sterling to slot the ball home.
It was deft. It was world-class. It saw Manchester City open up a two goal margin…
Lovely ball through for De Bruyne on the right, he cuts inside and deftly sidesteps a defender who went to ground then squares it to Foden who shifts and ultimately passes it on for Sterling to smash in…I was worried nobody was going to finish that off. #MCFC #MCIATA
— J. Check (@checkjfooty) October 22, 2019
Maturity, Composure, Intelligent at the highest level. Phil Foden. Absolute Class. #MCFC
— Shaun Ennis (@ShaunGEnnis) October 22, 2019
My goodness. Peak #MCFC on a fantastic team goal. Atalanta can only shrug shoulders as Mahrez plays in KDB, who cuts past a sliding mark to feed Foden, who deferred to MOTM Raheem Sterling. pic.twitter.com/WM1775YaXO
— Nicholas Mendola (@NicholasMendola) October 22, 2019
Look away Atalanta fans, it’s getting ugly.
Five minutes later, another goal. Sterling again. 4-1. Guardiola’s men were hungry for more.
We told you to look away Atalanta fans! At 4-1, it was respectable. At 5-1, it was turning into a rout.
Who? Well, you guessed it: Raheem Sterling there to complete his hat-trick.
What a display from the Englishman, what a player…
Sterling assisted ball to aguero , drew a pk and then scored a hat-trick. He’s unreal #mcfc
— Martin (@Mmenendez09) October 22, 2019
As the game settled down and turned somewhat scrappy, Foden was shown a very soft yellow, which Guardiola was extremely unhappy with.
Well, if he was unhappy about that, he was even less pleased after the youngster was shown a second yellow moments later. A minor blemish but a blow for the teenage sensation.
Nonetheless, the hosts comfortably saw out the rest of the game and made it nine points from nine in Group C.
Great fight from the boys today to hit back five times after going down. Three points in the bag and next onto Villa this weekend. #MCFC
— Larry Henry Jr (@lhenry019) October 22, 2019
After tonights game Phil Foden has put down a huge claim for a regular starting place, despite 2 soft yellow cards, and Raheem is priceless.
C’mon City!@ManCity #MCFC
— Stephen Holt (@StephenEHolt) October 22, 2019
161 goal involvements (82 goals & 79 assists) for club and country since Guardiola arrived. Transformed into a world class footballer. Absolute goal machine and up there with the very best. Pure hard work and commitment. Model professional on and off the pitch @sterling7 #MCFC pic.twitter.com/I6t4npyTa8
— ManCityzens (@ManCityzenscom) October 22, 2019
If Pep Guardiola wanted a response by saying his team weren’t ready to win the #ChampionsLeague then this was it. Clinical. #ManCity on the verge of qualification to the knockout stages and Sterling has his first European hattrick #MCFC
— Ben Ransom (@BenRansomSky) October 22, 2019
Another win and five more goals, but you can be sure that the manager will be thinking that there is still room for improvement.
Europe, watch out.