Sterling 9/10, Aguero 8/10 in Man City's easy win vs. Atalanta
MANCHESTER, England -- Raheem Sterling scored a second-half hat trick as Manchester City came from behind to thrash Atalanta 5-1 at the Etihad Stadium on a night that saw teenager Phil Foden sent off. The Italian side went ahead, thanks to Ruslan Malinovskyi's penalty before Sterling and Sergio Aguero shared five goals to put Pep Guardiola's side on the verge of qualification from the Champions League group.
Aguero equalised from close range after 34 minutes and added a penalty four minutes later to give City a narrow half-time lead. The home side dominated after the break and Sterling scored three times in the space of 11 minutes to ensure City -- who had Foden sent off seven minutes from time after picking up two yellow cards -- are one win away from sealing qualification from Group C.
The biggest compliment you can pay Foden is that in a team that also boasted Aguero, Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne, he didn't look out of place. The 19-year-old buzzed around Atalanta's penalty area, creating one chance for Aguero with a clever swivel around Andrea Masiello and showing quick feet under pressure to flick the ball to Sterling for City's third goal. Foden was given a rare chance and he took it. It wasn't a performance that should be remembered only for a soft red card.
With Aymeric Laporte ruled out until the new year with a knee injury, Guardiola is already running low on centre-halves so it doesn't help when his back-up options also pick up injuries. Rodri was signed in the summer as a holding midfielder but was pressed into action in the centre of defence at Crystal Palace at the weekend. He started there again on Tuesday, but lasted just 40 minutes before limping off with a hamstring problem. John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi have at least returned to fitness drills, which could mean Fernandinho moving back into midfield for Aston Villa's visit on Saturday.
Manager rating (out of 10)
7 -- Pep Guardiola said he had done his homework on Atalanta instead of watching Liverpool's draw with Manchester United on Sunday and it paid off. He was happy for the visitors, third in Serie A, to stream forward and hit them on the break. The plan worked perfectly and his team are all but into the knockout rounds.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Ederson, 6 -- Misjudged an early punt into the box but otherwise had very little to do as City took control.
DF Kyle Walker, 6 -- Back in the team after missing the win at Crystal Palace. Atalanta had joy down City's right early on and Walker was left exposed twice.
DF Fernandinho, 7 -- Gave away the penalty after being squared up in the corner of the box before a clumsy challenge on Ilicic.
DF Rodri, 6 -- Started at centre-back for the second game in a row. Given licence to push into midfield but was forced off at the end of the first half after suffering a hamstring strain.
MF Ilkay Gundogan, 7 -- Asked to play at the deepest midfielder. Beautifully-weighted pass split Atalanta's defence for Sterling to score the fourth.
MF Kevin De Bruyne, 7 -- Quiet night by his high standards but still played a key role in the third by racing onto Mahrez's pass and cutting inside Berat Djimsiti.
MF Riyad Mahrez, 7 -- Ducked inside off the right touchline to fire a pinpoint pass down the channel for Kevin De Bruyne in the buildup to City's third and made the fifth for Sterling.
MF Phil Foden, 7 -- Making his second start of the season, he showed wonderful control to skip past Masiello and create a chance for Sergio Aguero. Sent off late on after picking up a second booking.
MF Raheem Sterling, 9 -- Clever clipped cross with his right foot for Aguero to score the equaliser, won the penalty with a driving run into the area all before scoring three himself.
FW Sergio Aguero, 8 -- Was a fingertip save away from giving City the lead before getting on the end of Sterling's cross to get the equaliser. Got a second from the penalty spot.
DF John Stones (for Rodri, 41), 6 -- A spectator in the second half.
DF Nicolas Otamendi (for Kevin De Bruyne, 67), 6 -- Picked up a booking.
DF Joao Cancelo (for Benjamin Mendy, 72), N/R -- Not on the pitch long enough to make an impact.