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Sports

AFP
February 15, 2018

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Gundogan puts City on verge of quarters

BASEL, Switzerland: Ilkay Gundogan says there is still more to come from Manchester City after their “perfect” 4-0 rout of Basel left them on the verge of the Champions League soccer quarter-finals.

The runaway Premier League leaders destroyed Basel’s morale with a three-goal burst after just 23 minutes of the first leg last-16 mismatch.City’s first three goals came in a devastating nine-minute spell thanks to a header from Gundogan, a Bernardo Silva volley and a long-range Sergio Aguero strike.

It was Aguero’s 14th goal in 11 games in 2018.Gundogan added a fourth after the break and was only denied a hat-trick by the dogged determination of Basel goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik.The tie looks all but settled ahead of the return leg at the Etihad on March 7.

Gundogan says City can do better and he threw down the gauntlet to their Champions League rivals.The 27-year-old German singled out City’s playmaker Kevin de Bruyne for his part in his opening goal.

Pep Guardiola’s City starved Basel of the ball, enjoying 69-percent possession.The Spaniard heaped praise on Gundogan and his midfield team-mates, including David Silva who made a return off the bench after injury.

This was City’s 34th win in all competitions this season — one more than they managed in the whole of 2016-2017.City’s captain Vincent Kompany made his first Champions League appearance this season after a calf injury. He urged his team to give themselves a rousing victory margin in the second leg.

“If we have this game at the Etihad and it’s a 3-2 or a 2-2 draw that won’t give us a good feeling to go to the next round,” said the burly Belgian.

“We have showed we were the better team today and only for a lack of motivation or effort can we not do the same at home.” Guardiola said the return of David Silva and Leroy Sane, who both came on in the second half, boosts City’s chances in the coming weeks.

They play Wigan away on Saturday, face Arsenal in back-to-back matches starting with the League Cup final on February 25, then host Chelsea on March 4. Sane’s return from an ankle injury after only two weeks was a surprise with the German back — a month ahead of schedule.

Basel boss Raphael Wicky said the first leg has been effectively decided by City’s first-half goal flurry. In Turin, Italy, Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri insisted he would not be getting depressed despite criticism at failing to land the killer blow against Tottenham in their Champions League last 16, first leg clash in Turin.

“If anyone thought that Juventus would win 4-0 this evening he was way off track,” blasted Allegri, after his more experienced side threw away a dream start with two Gonzalo Higuain goals inside ten minutes to end with a 2-2 draw in front of their frustrated fans at the Allianz Stadium.

Higuain got the first goal after 73 seconds, and minutes later added a second from the spot after Ben Davies´ foul on Federico Bernardeschi.

But Harry Kane revived Spurs hopes after half an hour, with his seventh goal in the competition this season, rounding flattened goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.Higuain missed a second penalty before the break following Serge Aurier’s reckless challenge on Douglas Costa to keep the English side in the game.

Christian Eriksen scored Tottenham’s second goal from a free-kick after centre-back Giorgio Chiellini fouled Dele Alli, sending it low past a wrong-footed Buffon, leaving all to play for in Wembley on March 7.

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