Early goals from Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus saw Manchester City maintain their winning start in the Champions League with a 2-1 victory over Napoli.
City struck twice in the opening 13 minutes at the Etihad Stadium to set themselves up for result that lifted them six points clear of the Serie A leaders, and their supposed chief rivals, in Group F.
Napoli hit back strongly with Dries Mertens having a penalty saved before Amadou Diawara did score from the spot, but City survived a nervy finish.
OHHHH KEVIN DE BRUYNEEEE OHHHHHHHH KEVIN DE BRUYNEEEEEEEEEEE !!! Golazoooo
— Benjamin Mendy (@benmendy23) October 17, 2017
Kevin De Bruyne: The in-form Belgian was again City’s most influential player. He delivered a superb cross for Jesus to score and hit the bar himself soon after. He went close from a free-kick late in the game and another fine pass for Leroy Sane led to another good chance.
Sterling’s opening goal after nine minutes ignited the atmosphere at the Etihad Stadium. It seemed City had just carried on from where they left off against Stoke at the weekend as they played some exhilarating football in the opening half hour. They could easily have scored four goals in his period.
When Ederson saved Dries Merten’s first-half penalty it was the sixth successive time that an opposing team had missed a spot-kick against City in the Champions League. Three of the previous efforts were saved by Joe Hart and two by Willy Caballero. The sequence was ended by Diawara in the second half.
Kyle Walker: 6
John Stones: 7
Nicolas Otamendi: 7
Fabian Delph: 6
Kevin De Bruyne: 8
David Silva: 6
Raheem Sterling: 7
Gabriel Jesus: 7
Leroy Sane: 7
Bernardo Silva (for Sterling, 70): 6
Ilkay Gundogan (for David Silva, 76): 6
Danilo (for Jesus, 87): 6
Jose Reina: 6
Elseid Hysaj: 6
Raul Albiol: 6
Kalidou Koulibaly: 7
Faouzi Ghoulam: 6
Piotr Zielinski: 6
Amadou Diawara: 6
Marek Hamsik: 7
Jose Callejon: 6
Dries Mertens: 7
Lorenzo Insigne: 7
Allan (for Insigne, 57): 6
Christian Maggio (for Hysaj, 70): 6
Adam Ounas (for Hamsik, 78): 6
Manchester City v Burnley (Premier League, October 21)
Napoli v Inter Milan (Serie A, October 21)
Harry Kane was the headline act but Hugo Lloris stole the show as the Frenchman’s stunning save helped earn Tottenham a 1-1 draw with Real Madrid.
Spurs took a surprise lead at the Santiago Bernabeu through Raphael Varane’s own goal, only for Cristiano Ronaldo to level from the penalty spot after Serge Aurier had fouled Toni Kroos.
From there, however, Mauricio Pochettino’s men had Lloris to thank as the goalkeeper denied Karim Benzema from four yards with his legs, when the striker looked certain to score.
Here are our player ratings…
Navas 8: Did well to tip a Kane header over in the first half, and made two simply superb stops in the second period from Kane’s curler and Eriksen’s drive.
Achraf 7: Extremely composed Champions League debut from this precocious teenager. Linked well with Modric and teed up a chance which Ronaldo headed onto the post.
Varane 6: Inadvertantly scored the opener with a deflection into his own goal and occasionally struggled with the England striker’s strength.
Ramos 6: Mostly strong and solid at the back but was occasionally beaten in the air by old international teammate Llorente.
Marcelo 6: Out of position for Tottenham’s goal and didn’t get forward to his usual effect. An unusually quiet outing.
Modric 7: A class above everyone else in the first half. Imperious use of the ball and showed his game-reading skills to regularly win back possession.
Casemiro 6: Not his best game, and perhaps fortunate to avoid conceding a penalty with a lunge on Llorente.
Isco 6: Bright and busy initially, linking his team’s midfield and attack. Had a shot clawed wide by Lloris in the first half, but faded after the break.
Kroos 7: Made a great run to win the penalty for Ronaldo’s equaliser and was classy as ever with his use of the ball in midfield.
Ronaldo 7: Decisively converted his penalty in an intense pursuit of goals which also saw him hit the post with a header and force a couple of saves from Lloris. Always dangerous.
Benzema 4: Poor performance, contributing little to his team’s build-up play and squandering three great chances, dragging a shot wide and missing two headers.
Asensio 6: Busied himself but couldn’t really get into the game after coming on for Benzema.
Vazquez N/A: A late injection of pace down the right but rarely involved.
Lloris 8: Made some good saves and produced one truly outrageous stop from Benzema, stretching out his leg to somehow repel a close-range header.
Aurier 8: The best outfield player, delivering the cross for his team’s goal, having a shot tipped wide and defending well against Marcelo. Spoiled his night by conceding the penalty with a rash challenge.
Sanchez 7: Quietly assured on the right of Pochettino’s back three. Held his nerve and did the simple things well.
Dier 7: Playing in the middle of a back three and performed with admirable composure, although his use of the ball was sometimes poor.
Alderweireld 7: Former Atletico man was reliable and decisive at the back in a city he knows well, getting in the right place to make clearance after clearance.
Vertonghen 7: Good performance. Solid in the tackle, did well defensively, and saw plenty of the ball in his wing-back role.
Sissoko 6: The game largely passed him by in the opening period but he grew in stature after the break.
Winks 5: Struggled to contain Isco’s movement between the lines and looked a little out of his depth. Sent a curling shot badly off target.
Eriksen 5: Well beaten in his personal duel with Modric. Little impact going forward although he perked up somewhat in the second half.
Llorente 7: Stabbed an early chance wide and beautifully linked the play to create second half chances for Eriksen and Kane.
Kane 6: Some excellent moments, especially when he pressured Varane into an error for the own goal. Denied a goal by Navas’s great save but maybe should have buried it.
Rose 6: Came into midfield as Pochettino tightened up for the final stages and did what he was asked to.
Son N/A: On for the final stages with insufficient time to make an impact.
Manchester United play Benfica away in their third Champions League group game this season.
Jose Mourinho’s side will be looking for their third win to maintain their spot at the top of the group.
Here are three key battles to look out for.
JONAS VS CHRIS SMALLING
Brazilian forward Jonas was once described by a local newspaper as the worst striker in the world. He’s come a long way since then, and was even in contention for the European Golden Shoe a year ago.
Chris Smalling stepped in for the injured Eric Bailly on Saturday against Liverpool and acquitted himself well, showing again that United are blessed with depth in central defence. Fellow Englishman Phil Jones picked up a knock late on in that game, which means even more responsibility will be thrust upon Smalling against Benfica.
The United defender will fancy his chances in an aerial duel against Jonas, but Benfica’s forward is adept at holding onto the ball and bringing his teammates into play, which is where the real battle lies.
LUBOMIR FEJSA VS HENRIKH MKHITARYAN
Here’s an incredible stat about Serbian defensive midfielder Ljubomir Fejsa: the Benfica man has won ten consecutive league titles, across three countries. Clearly, he’s the championship whisperer. Perhaps he should be on the radar of a certain North London club…
The 29-year-old is an accomplished ball-winner in the centre of the park, which sets up an intriguing duel with Henrikh Mkhitaryan. United’s playmaker is an elusive runner and excellent passer, and so far this season has been crucial to everything good about his team’s attacks.
He’ll no doubt pose a threat to Fejsa and the rest of the Benfica team, but he’ll also have to be alert to Fejsa’s passing ability and propensity to shoot from long range.
LUISAO VS ROMELU LUKAKU
At 36, Luisao remarkably remains one of Benfica’s best defenders, with the Brazilian having played in every minute of his side’s league and European campaigns this season. He defends in a composed manner, rarely being drawn into rash challenges even though he’s not the best tackler.
Most importantly given his opposition on Wednesday, he’s more than capable of holding his own in an aerial duel. Romelu Lukaku is a tougher challenge than most in that regard, but he won’t have as easy a time of bullying Luisao as he’s used to.
The Belgian’s pace and clever running might give him a slight edge when the ball’s on the ground, and that could make all the difference.