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Gundogan puts ‘perfect’ City on verge of quarterfinals

Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan (right) celebrates with teammate Sergio Aguero after scoring his second in their UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match with Basel on Tuesday night. AFP
Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan (right) celebrates with teammate Sergio Aguero after scoring his second in their UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match with Basel on Tuesday night. AFP

Gundogan puts ‘perfect’ City on verge of quarterfinals

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 quarterfinals.

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 result was maybe perfect, but there are still plenty of things to improve,” Gundogan said.

The 27-year-old German singled out City’s playmaker Kevin de Bruyne for his part in his opening goal.

“I had the opponent on my back so it was not really easy to head it, but the timing was perfect and the ball was perfect from Kevin,” said Gundogan.

Pep Guardiola’s City starved Basel of the ball, enjoying 69-percent possession.

‘Clinical’

“To win 4-0 away in the last 16 is an amazing result. We are almost in the quarterfinals – but I am not saying we are already there, out of respect for Basel,” said Guardiola.

“We defended well and we were clinical – we had four chances and took them all.

“If we get to the quarterfinals that is already better than last season and that is the first step for us.”

The Spaniard heaped praise on Gundogan and his midfield teammates, including David Silva, who made a return off the bench after injury.

“Ilkay is a guy with special quality. He is an amazing midfield player who has a sense for goal,” said Guardiola.

“He was out for six or seven months last season and we missed him, he is an outstanding player who doesn’t feel the pressure.

“With De Bruyne and David Silva, we have a fantastic midfield trio.”

This was City’s 34th win in all competitions this season – one more than they managed in the whole of 2016-2017.

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