FC Schalke 04 2-3 Manchester City: 5 Talking Points

Sterling wheels away to celebrate his last-gasp winner as City recovered a 2-1 deficit in Germany
Sterling wheels away to celebrate his last-gasp winner as City recovered a 2-1 deficit in Germany

Raheem Sterling's last-gasp winner ensured ten-man Manchester City earned a slender advantage over a tricky Schalke side during a frantic Champions League last-16 first leg tie in Gelsenkirchen. 

Leroy Sane, on his return to his boyhood club, came off the bench to score a fantastic free-kick strike from some distance - after former Tottenham midfielder Nabil Bentaleb converted two penalties for the hosts in the first-half. Sergio Aguero continued his excellent goalscoring form with a routine finish after Schalke's defensive mishap: he has now scored in seven consecutive away games.

The use of VAR overshadowed the encounter after overturning the official's decision for the first spot-kick, as Nicolas Otamendi was adjudged to have handled Daniel Caligiuri's goalbound effort.

The defender was sent off midway through the second-half, but it only added fuel to City's fire as they breached the Royal Blues twice in quick succession, recovering from 2-1 down to ultimately prevail. With all of that in mind, here's a look at five talking points from City's 3-2 win: 

#5 Bentaleb and McKennie impress despite draining defeat

Bentaleb and McKennie were impressive despite Schalke
Bentaleb and McKennie were impressive despite Schalke's dramatic home defeat

The best word to describe it is draining. Having worked tirelessly over the 90 minutes, McKennie nursing a groin injury and Bentaleb tiring but powering through nonetheless, Schalke were ultimately made to pay for poor pieces of defending in ruthless fashion. 

Schalke, who finished second in last season's Bundesliga, currently find themselves in 14th after a poor run of results to start the campaign and inconsistency has defined their year. Although the defeat itself will be raw and tough to take, there were two main positives: the aforementioned midfield duo. 

Bentaleb showed nerves of steel, after patiently waiting for minutes on each, to convert both spot-kicks in the first-half. He's now netted all 14 taken in his professional career to date, which is a commendable statistic, to say the least. 

McKennie, four years his junior, has continued to impress with his energy, intelligence and guile at the heart of the Schalke midfield. His versatility and eagerness to learn more allows him to be deployed in a variety of positions - like the right-sided midfield role he adopted on this occasion. 

Tenacious in the tackle and composed out of possession, his passing was regularly risky and inaccurate but he still delivered an admirable display just like the former Tottenham man alongside him. 

McKennie's match stats: A game-high 10 aerial duels won, three tackles, and one key pass.

Bentaleb's stats: Two penalty goals, two tackles and interceptions, three completed dribbles, clearances and one blocked shot, no fouls committed. 

So with that in mind, it's refreshing to see they rose to the challenge posed by City in a game where the hosts needed patience and could've earned more than two goals - even if the match overview stats don't suggest that. 

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Edited by Sripad
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