Man City book ticket to UCL Round of 16 with ease

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND — Man City had Young Boys beaten by half-time on Tuesday and their UEFA Champions League group stage campaign is done and dusted after just four games.

Pep Guardiola will want to secure the top spot in Group G but 12 points from a possible 12 so far means that, for the 11th year in a row, City will have an interest in the knockout rounds in the new year.

Having reached the semifinals in each of the last three years, qualifying from their group will be viewed as the first small hurdle cleared on the way to bigger things but trophy runs have to start somewhere. Watching Guardiola’s team, it’s tempting to think that the big teams should always cruise through the groups but less than an hour before kick-off at the Etihad Stadium, Barcelona were beaten by Shakhtar Donetsk in Group H.

City are one of only three teams to hold a 100% record in this season’s group stage and are the first team to qualify for the Round of 16. You wouldn’t bet against them being the last team standing after the final at Wembley Stadium in June, either.

“Of course, we are incredibly happy to have qualified with two games left,” said Guardiola. “People say ‘yeah, the group stage, it’s easy’, but you have to do it. In life, you have to do it when people expect you to do it.

“Sometimes you have to fight the tendency people think about us. The important thing is it happens when people say we qualify. The job isn’t done, we have to finish first [in the group] and have the second leg in the last 16 home. We have a job to do but the first step to qualify is done. I was really impressed.”

After beating Young Boys 3-1 in Switzerland two weeks ago, the return fixture was effectively over when Phil Foden wriggled around Ulisses Garcia to score and put City 2-0 up in first-half stoppage time.

Jago Pahad Desk

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