Manchester City strike three times in 10 minutes to overwhelm Viktoria Plzen
MANCHESTER City struck three times in the space of 10 second half minutes to get their latest Champions League campaign off to a winning start against Viktoria Plzen.
City were frustrated by the Czech champions in the first half at the compact Doosan Arena but burst into life after the break with goals from Edin Dzeko, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero.
The lively Aguero had also hit the post in the first half while Matus Kozacik also made good early saves from Dzeko and Jesus Navas in the Group D encounter.
The result was the perfect start in the competition for City's new manager Manuel Pellegrini and lifted spirits after a mixed start to the campaign ahead of Sunday's derby against Manchester United.
Pellegrini's previous record in the Champions League, having taken Villarreal to the semi-finals and Malaga to the last eight, was one of City's prime reasons for appointing him in the summer.
A day after his 60th birthday, he got what he hopes will be another prolonged run up and running with an ultimately convincing win.
Reigning champions Bayern Munich will doubtless provide a sterner test in their next fixture but City's challenge is already looking better than last season's, when they failed to win a match.
City also looked stronger for the return of captain Vincent Kompany, who had missed the previous three games with a groin injury.
It took City time to make their mark against a Plzen side unbeaten in 14 games this season but once the deadlock was broken the result was never in doubt.
3City started brightly with Navas forcing Kozacik to tip over a powerful shot from the edge of the area.
It was the first of a number of good saves from Kozacik but he was caught out at the resulting corner as Toure headed over.
Dzeko headed another chance over before Jan Koravik missed Plzen's first serious chance.
City had not got into their stride when Aleksandar Kolarov was needlessly booked for handball and Joe Hart had an uneasy moment when he ineffectively punched a free-kick.
Dzeko should have given City the lead after 22 minutes when Kolarov burst down the left and picked him out in the six-yard box but Kozacik saved the Bosnian's header at point-blank range.
Aguero went even closer with a firm low drive which struck the foot of the upright and Kolarov hit the rebound straight at Kozacik.
Navas created another opportunity but his shot took a deflection and the wrong-footed Aguero stumbled and punched the ball.
At the other end Tomas Horava attempted a spectacular volley from a Frantisek Rajtoral cross but shot well wide.
City were far from convincing in the first half but continued to create opportunities and Aguero stabbed against the post again, although the whistle had gone for a foul on Kozacik.
Much to Dzeko's frustration, Aguero shot at Kozacik just before the interval.
But the Argentinian was anything but selfish as he set up City's opener three minutes into the second half, muscling his way past Lukas Hejda and racing clear to square for Dzeko.
The striker, under pressure for his place from Alvaro Negredo, made no mistake with a firm low finish from the edge of the area.
Pablo Zabaleta blocked a shot from Kovarik as Plzen tried to respond but City's goal gave them the impetus they needed and two more followed in quick succession.
Toure doubled the advantage with a sublime effort in the 53rd minute, taking a touch outside the area and then curling a shot into the top corner.
It was his third great finish from distance this season after free-kicks against Newcastle and Hull.
Plzen's resolve was broken and they conceded again from long range as Aguero took a pass from Navas and turned just inside the area to drive into the bottom corner.
Navas threatened similar from an Aguero pass soon after but his effort was blocked in a crowded penalty area.
City were then content to play out the rest of the game but Aguero might have had a second when he broke through after 86 minutes but Kozacik saved.
Negredo came off the bench to create another chance for Aguero in the last minute but he shot over.