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De Bruyne's magic moment leaves City sitting pretty

Man City 2 Shakhtar 0

By Robert Jones

Manchester City midfielder Fabian Delph hailed Kevin De Bruyne's "moment of magic" after the 2-0 Champions League win against Shakhtar Donetsk. De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling struck as City moved clear in Group F with a nervy victory.

De Bruyne broke the deadlock on what proved a testing night against the Ukrainian champions with a fine shot early in the second half, before substitute Sterling wrapped up victory late on.

Sergio Aguero, one short of equalling the club's longstanding goalscoring record, endured a frustrating evening and had a second-half penalty saved by Andriy Pyatov.

"It was very difficult. We're not used to teams who come and keep the ball as well as they do," said Delph.

"We had to be organised and patient but in the end we knew we'd get the chances.

"We probably could have stuck a few more away, but when you've got guys like this guy (De Bruyne) who can have that moment of magic you're always confident going into games."

Belgium international De Bruyne played down his own game while praising visitors Shakhtar.

"Well, I definitely think it's not my best game," De Bruyne said. "It's just the way it goes today but this team can definitely play some football. They're very skilful guys.

"The first half was very difficult for both sides but the second half we were better, kept the ball better and created more chances.

In the absence of the injured Benjamin Mendy, City deployed Fabian Delph as a makeshift left-back but it was on the opposite flank where Shakhtar made most headway. Kyle Walker found the going particularly tough as Shakhtar attacked down the left.

Gabriel Jesus made an early break for City but David Silva was unable to make the most of the opening and Aguero shot tamely at Pyatov. Jesus and Aguero both spurned further good opportunities by straying offside and Kevin De Bruyne dragged a gilt-edged chance wide. Leroy Sane shot across goal after jinking his way through the box.

Shakhtar threatened through Fred, one of five Brazilians in the Ukrainian champions' starting line-up, but countryman and former Donetsk player Fernandinho made a timely challenge.

Fernandinho was forced to put in a strong defensive effort as Shakhtar continued to push. Ederson denied another Brazilian, Marlos, by palming a curling effort around the post.

Ederson was beaten to a free-kick but City were given a let-off as Ivan Ordets put his header wide.

City finally eased growing tension three minutes into the second half as Silva fed De Bruyne on the edge of the box and the Belgian curled a fine shot around defenders and into the top corner.

Aguero, sensing the record, was then denied on the volley by Pyatov before Sterling sliced narrowly wide with the goal at his mercy.

Silva thought he should have had a penalty after being felled in the area but the flag was already raised for offside.

Referee Manuel de Sousa did point to the spot after 70 minutes when Sane went down under pressure from Ordets but Aguero, with the crowd willing him on, saw his effort saved.

Aguero was not downbeat and drove a low effort wide but his night was soon over and he was replaced six minutes from time.

Sterling was also denied a penalty after going down in the area but atoned for his earlier miss when he turned home a Bernardo Silva pass in the last minute.

• GEORGE Saville celebrated his first call-up to the Northern Ireland squad with a brace for Millwall.

Saville scored both goals in the Lions' 2-1 Championship win over Reading.

Man city: Ederson, Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Delph, De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva (Gundogan 81), Sane, Jesus (Sterling 54mins), Aguero (Silva 84). Unused subs: Bravo, Danilo, Mangala, Toure.

Shakhtar Donetsk: Pyatov, Butko, Ordets, Rakitskiy, Ismaily, Fred (Kovalenko 90), Stepanenko, Marlos (Dentinho 78), Taison, Bernard (Petriak 89), Ferreyra. Unused subs: Khocholava, Lourenco, Shevchenko, Azevedo.

Man of the match: Kevin de Bruyne

Match rating: 6/10

Referee: Manuel de Sousa (Portugal)

Belfast Telegraph

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