UEFA Champions League 2017/18: Manchester City 2-1 Napoli, 5 talking points
A penalty miss, De Bruyne masterclass and a thrilling finish, Man City v Napoli had plenty to talk about
The placid stands of the Etihad stood witness as two of the most prolific attacking teams of Europe went head to head in the UEFA Champions League group stage encounter. A game that was expected to be the most exciting one among the midweek fixtures nearly lived up to its billing as both teams tested each other's resolve till the final minute.
Pep's men opened the scoring in the 9th minute as Raheem Sterling rattled the netting after Kyle Walker's shot was blocked inside the box. In under 5 minutes, City extended their lead as the ever-excellent Kevin De Bruyne drove in an inch-perfect grounded cross from the right flank for Gabriel Jesus to tap in.
Dries Mertens missed a penalty in the 34th minute as Ederson saved a poorly struck shot with his feet. Napoli continued to pile up the pressure and eventually got a goal back in the 73rd minute as Diawara converted from the spot after Fernandinho carelessly brought Ghoulam down in the area.
The match opened up after that but the Citizens defended with resolve and saw the game out without further damage.
Let's take a look at the 5 talking points from the match.
#1 We need to talk about Kevin
First of all, what a player. If you think your much-overused postulations on who the best players in the world are is starting to sound stale, add a fresh new page and write this man's name on top, in bold. Kevin De Bruyne.
De Bruyne gauges angles and spaces and ferrets out human resources like a master architect and in his hands, the fortress of Manchester City will flourish.
The Belgian's assist was yet another grounded ball from the right wing which ended up at Jesus's feet and the Man City striker knows he won't score many goals easier than that.
De Bruyne would have torn the net in the 25th minute-- with a projectile he launched with his left foot from 30 yards out-- but had to settle with knocking the demons out of the woodwork. In the very next minute, he won a freekick outside the area.
If he was half a second quicker with his pass to Jesus in the 75th minute, City could have gone 3-1 up but the slightly delayed pass led to the Brazilian being flagged offside. But even then, the craft involved in taking 3 Napoli defenders out of the game with one swift swipe is mighty adorable.
Even his freekick from an acute angle in the 79th minute raised concerns for the Serie A outfit.
De Bruyne and Leroy Sane have developed a telepathic connection between themselves and combine to cause a special brand of mayhem.
De Bruyne is the full package. He has quick feet, possesses a well-wired cranium and is committed to the cause like no other.