Manchester City took a giant stride towards the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a dominant victory against Swiss champions Basel at St. Jakob-Park.
Basel had beaten Manchester United in the group stages, but were brushed aside by the Premier League leaders on this occasion. İlkay Gündoğan, Bernardo Silva and Sergio Agüero scored first-half goals before Gündoğan added his second after the break.
City’s club captain Vincent Kompany made his first appearance in the Champions League this season, replacing Aymeric Laporte, while Fabian Delph came in for Oleksandr Zinchenko at left-back.
The visitors started on the front foot and Gündoğan forced Tomáš Vaclík into a smart save from Bernardo Silva’s cross within two minutes. Basel’s first opportunity came when Blás Riveros’ long ball picked out Dimitri Oberlin, but the striker fluffed his lines under pressure from the advancing Ederson.
Man City got their breakthrough after fourteen minutes. Kevin de Bruyne whipped in a brilliant corner and Gündoğan used the pace on the ball to direct a strong header past Vaclík. Basel nearly responded immediately but Ederson was again out quickly to foil Valentin Stocker.
The game was effectively over as a contest before twenty minutes had passed. Raheem Sterling’s cross took a nick off a Basel head and fell nicely for Bernardo Silva to volley in his eleventh of the season, although Vaclík should have kept it out.
And the onslaught continued a few minutes later when the ball broke nicely for Agüero on the edge of the box. Fresh from his four-goal haul against Leicester City at the weekend, the Argentinean buried the ball into the bottom corner of the net with the keeper rooted to the spot.
City’s next chance fell to Sterling, but Vaclík earned some redemption for his earlier error as he plunged at the Englishman’s feet to push the ball out for a corner. The English side took their foot off the gas and Basel made it to half-time with no further wounds sustained, but that devastating first quarter of the game had all-but decided this tie already.
The home side came out fighting in the second-half and Mohamed Elyounoussi forced Ederson into a fingertip stop within the first five minutes. But their respite was short-lived as Gündoğan made his own space on the edge of the box before nonchalantly bending in City’s fourth of the night.
Basel sought a consolation and two presentable opportunities fell their way in quick succession, but Oberlin headed a gilt-edged chance wide and then Elyounoussi weaved his way into the box but shot straight at Ederson. Oberlin also tested the Brazilian keeper with a dipping free-kick as Basel enjoyed their first period of sustained pressure.
At the other end, Gündoğan should have completed his hat-trick from a Sergio Agüero cut-back, but he didn’t connect as he would have liked and Vaclík made a good save. City continued to look the more dangerous side going forwards, but their decision-making let them down in the final third.
Nonetheless, this was a superb performance from the English side, and the quest for the quadruple remains very much alive.