The back pages around the continent will be heavily dominated by Spurs’ domination of European champions Real Madrid at Wembley, but Manchester City saw off the Serie A leaders in highly convincing fashion at the San Paolo.
The first thirty minutes aside, this performance had everything, be it fast and fluid attacking football or nitty-gritty defensive solidarity. Napoli are league leaders for a reason, and they were a huge test, but City answered most of the questions. I am struggling to remember us going away in Europe and being so convincing – the City of old would’ve crumbled and relied on a Hart masterclass to get anything.
Here’s how I rated the players…
Ederson Moraes – 6
Not at fault for either Napoli goal, and made a crucial save from Callejon on the hour mark. His distribution, as ever, was convincing, as the Brazilian keeper was the starting point of many attacks.
Danilo – 6
We lacked the surging powerhouse that is Kyle Walker on the right flank going forward, but Danilo put in a solid shift defensively, and was always switched on. His ability to win the ball back with the high press is outstanding.
John Stones – 8.5
Oh John, I love you. Pep was right when he sung the praise about John having ‘more balls’ than anyone. He took a lot of flack last season from pundits and fans alike, but this season he has been the best centre-half in Europe with no doubt. His positioning, tactical awareness and leadership are remarkable. To add to this, he got himself a goal.
Nicolas Otamendi – 8
We talk about the abuse John Stones received last season, Nicolas Otamendi took the same if not more. He is having a very underrated season. He is cutting the mistakes out more and more, and his eye for a pass is improving by the game. Nico got himself on the score sheet which was vital in the shaping of the match.
Fabian Delph – 6
This was probably Fabian’s toughest test of his still young full-back career, up against tricky and pacey wingers. Fabian showed maturity tonight – he knew he wasn’t quicker than Callejon or Insigne so adjusted himself accordingly to cut off a number of balls.
Fernandinho – 7
Non-City fans may not realise this, but Fernandinho is one of our most crucial players. We always knew he had the defensive capabilities, but this season he has added to his game in a number of areas, his passing and ability to drive the team forward to name a couple.
Ilkay Gundogan – 7.5
Ilkay’s first start in Europe this season was one to remember. When Napoli were controlling the game, the German was the brightest spark with some smart passing. Ilkay got the assist for the first goal with a beautiful left-footed cross.
Kevin De Bruyne – 7
If I scrolled down the Twitter timeline at about 8:15pm, it would be full with tweets talking about how KDB looks tired and poor tonight. However, Kevin grew into the game and was one of the best players in the second half. When Kevin started playing, City started playing – that is no coincidence.
Raheem Sterling – 9 (Man of the Match)
I make that ten goals for the season for Raheem ‘no end product’ ‘£50m flop’ ‘not better than Jordon Ibe’ Sterling. Not only his goal to seal the game, but Raheem’s trickery was second-to-none. When it wasn’t happening, Raheem took the reigns and made things happen more than not.
Sergio Aguero – 178 (but realistically 7/10)
Not the best performance for Sergio. He scored a goal. I think I’ve forgot something? Oh yes, Sergio Kun Aguero now is officially City’s all time leading scorer. Following a brilliant run from Leroy, Sergio still had a lot to do, and his finish was very neat.
Leroy Sané – 7
I hope Leroy has copyrighted the darting curved run around the full-back, because it is different to anything I have seen before. His run for the Aguero goal was sensational, and he threatened all night.
David Silva – 6
Hargreaves in commentary said David was coming on ‘to see out the game with his defensive prowess’. Rubbish, I thought. But I was wrong. If there is one thing I have learnt from Guardiola it is to keep the ball and the opponent cannot score. ‘See out the game’ usually means a brute in midfield to sit back and invite pressure, but Dave came on and quite literally just kept the ball away from Napoli.
Bernardo Silva – 7
A surprisingly positive cameo from Bernardo – some very nice runs and dribbles with the ball. He nearly got on the score sheet a couple of times too.
Gabriel Jesus – N/A
Not enough time to mark, but played a part in the fourth goal.
Sergio Aguero became Manchester City’s all-time record goalscorer with his goal against Napoli.
The City Store has celebrated his achievement by releasing a new range! Check it out!