As Manchester City put one foot in the Champions League quarter-finals with an assured 2-0 victory over Borussia Monchengladbach, Bernardo Silva and Gabriel Jesus were on goal.
The overwhelming majority of this last-16 first-leg was dominated by Pep Guardiola’s side and the City manager may have been disappointed by the inability to convert that into a more dominant lead before after 65 minutes Jesus prodded in.
After the Portugal pair had already combined for the 29th-minute opener, Silva and Joao Cancelo provided the goal with the full-back dipping delivery from the left for a truly sublime moment for his diminutive compatriot to head home.
For the Premier League champions, who have dropped at the quarterfinal stage in each of the past three seasons, it brings a familiar obstacle into view.
3 – Bernardo Silva's opener was his 35th goal for Manchester City in all competitions, but only his third with a headed finish. Ghosted. pic.twitter.com/JhKlYbw2iH
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 24, 2021
City’s slick passing and astute pushing, with last-ditch challenges needed to thwart Jesus and Raheem Sterling, soon found Gladbach hemmed in.
The men of Guardiola were able to bide their time, and the opener arrived just before half an hour, with Silva nodding from deep at the back post at Cancelo’s sumptuous cross.
In the 53rd minute, Ramy Bensebaini sloppily gave Jesus the ball, but he hesitated and let Nico Elvedi return to make a goal-saving challenge.
As the hour approached, with Denis Zakaria powering past Rodri but overhitting a pass into the City box that Ederson easily swept up, a rare moment of inspiration arrived for Gladbach.
As Alassane Plea’s audacious flick bounced just inside the far post, the Brazil goalkeeper was scampering in the 63rd minute. When Silva again played the unlikely role of a back-post target man to tee him up, those minor scares roused City and Jesus showed sharp poaching instincts.
As Phil Foden thrashed over from Ilkay Gundogan’s 78th-minute knockdown, it was no wonder that the opening was crafted by Cancelo’s chipped ball into the box.
A sloppy pass from Rodri in stoppage time gave Gladbach substitute Hannes Wolf a chance to reduce the deficit, but in their one-on-one, Ederson prevailed.