Fernandinho: Manchester City have taken huge step towards qualification

Fernandinho feels Manchester City have made a significant step towards qualification for the Champions League knockout stages after opening their campaign with successive wins.

City have won their first two group games for the first time after following up their 4-0 win at Feyenoord with a 2-0 defeat of Shakhtar Donetsk at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.

City are already three points clear at the top of Group F but, with back-to-back games against Serie A leaders Napoli ahead, the good start needs to be built upon.

Midfielder Fernandinho, who joined Ciy from Shakhtar in 2013, said: “It was an important step for us. We knew we were going to play against a very good team who would create a lot of problems for us.

“I think we made a huge step towards qualification for the next stage. This is good. If you want to be top of the group you have to win most of the points possible. Two in a row in the group stage is nice but now we have to think about Napoli because it is going to be a tough game for us.”

City went into the game on the back of a series of big wins after thrashing Liverpool, Watford and Crystal Palace, as well as Feyenoord, but found the Ukrainian champions a sterner test.

Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane shot narrowly wide in the first half but Shakhtar twice went close. Ederson made a fine save to deny Marlos, while Fernandinho produced a timely challenge to prevent Fred shooting.

De Bruyne eventually broke through after 48 minutes and City proved a greater threat in the remainder of the game. Sergio Aguero missed the chance to equal the club’s goalscoring record of 177 when he had a penalty saved by Andriy Pyatov, who also kept out a well-struck volley from the Argentinian.

Substitute Raheem Sterling sliced wide from in front of an open goal but wrapped up victory by turning home a Bernardo Silva pull-back in the last minute.

Fernandinho won six Ukrainian titles and the UEFA Cup with Shakhtar and felt City had to dig deep to overcome his old club.

The Brazil international said: “I know most of the players. I played with them when I was over there. I knew they could create some problems for us, especially keeping the ball. But we were patient to defend our side and when we had the ball we tried to create chances to score. We had a few chances and in the end we got two goals and the three points.”

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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