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Dutch mastered as Guardiola's men produce 'Total Football'

Feyenoord 0 Manchester City 4

Manchester City's John Stones scores their fourth goal. Photo: Reuters
Manchester City's John Stones scores their fourth goal. Photo: Reuters

James Ducker

This will have been a hard watch for Feyenoord fans, but the Dutch know 'Total Football' when they see it and the purist in them must have wanted to doff their caps to Pep Guardiola's vibrant side.

The Dutch champions were making their first appearance in the Champions League for 14 years and, let's face it, looked very much like a Europa League outfit, but City would still have bullied better teams playing like this.

Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne, second left, celebrates with other teammates after assisting in their fourth goal. Photo: AP
Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne, second left, celebrates with other teammates after assisting in their fourth goal. Photo: AP

It says a lot about how Guardiola wants to play and the number of players he commits to attack that centre-half John Stones should open and finish the scoring with two headers, with goals from Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus sandwiched in between.

There was elegance to City's play, yes, but it was striking just how physically strong they looked.

Stones actually made two blocks from Feyenoord's only two ventures forward of note that, in their own way, will have satisfied Guardiola as much as the goals given the criticism that continues to be aimed at the England man defensively.

But Kevin De Bruyne was City's orchestrator-in-chief, popping up all over the place to drive his team forward with that languid, understated brilliance of his.

Manchester City’s Kyle Walker cools off. Photo: Reuters
Manchester City’s Kyle Walker cools off. Photo: Reuters

The biggest compliment you could pay City is they had barely got out of third gear in the 25 minutes it took to run up a three-goal lead and end this match as a contest.

City will play far better sides in the Champions League this season, but you can only beat who is put in front of you and what light work they made of their first assignment in a competition they are determined to finally leave a stamp on.

Feyenoord were pegged so far back that they rarely got out of their defensive 5-4-1 shape, with Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy looking to get in behind the full-backs, and the constant rotation and movement of De Bruyne and the two Silvas, David and Bernardo, made them so hard to pin down.

It took 97 seconds for City to get on the scoresheet and the only shock was the identity of the goalscorer.

David Silva crossed from the left and Stones powered down a header that hit Tonny Vilhena before worming through his legs.

If that should have been kept out, Feyenoord stood no chance with the second. City worked the ball nonchalantly out to Walker on the right flank and the England defender drilled over a cross.

The ball was travelling at one hell of a speed by the time it bounced in front of Aguero and yet the Argentina striker merely used the pace of it to hook an exquisite, beautifully-controlled volley past the hapless Brad Jones.

Goal No 3? Silva crossed from the right byline, the ball was not cleared and ran out to Mendy, who drove in a shot from 20 yards that Jones parried.

Nicolas Otamendi was stood offside but not interfering with play and there was Jesus to tap home.

A fourth only seemed a matter of time in the second half and it was fitting it originated from the wondrous right foot of De Bruyne.

Silva played a short corner to the Belgian, who whipped an in-swinging corner to the far post where Stones thundered home his second header of the night. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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