Vincent Kompany hailed one of Manchester City’s greatest Champions League performances after they powered into the last 16 with a stunning 3-1 win at Sevilla.
City overpowered the Spaniards with a blistering first-half display that also propelled them to the top of Group D and into the knockout stages with two games to spare.
Manuel Pellegrini’s well set-up side did most of the damage inside the first eight minutes as the outstanding Fernandinho teed up Raheem Sterling for the opener and then headed in a second himself.
Benoit Tremoulinas pulled one back in an exhilarating spell at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium but Wilfried Bony tucked home City’s third nine minutes before the break to establish a control they never relinquished.
Kompany told BT Sport: “Our game plan was perfect. This was probably the best performance we’ve given in the Champions League so far.
“It’s an incredible achievement to have qualified with two games still to go and we now go on. It’s important for us to finish first in our group because we’ve been unlucky with draws before so we need to make sure we end as group winners.”
With Juventus again held by Borussia Monchengladbach, City now lead the group by a point from the Italians, who they face in their next game in three weeks’ time.
City boss Pellegrini made a tactical change as he surprisingly left in-form Kevin De Bruyne on the bench and brought in Fernando. That altered the midfield dynamic, allowing both Fernandinho and Yaya Toure to get forward as Fernando sat deep.
It worked superbly with Fernandinho the game’s central figure, strong in defence and both creative and quick in attack.
Pellegrini said: “I was not happy in the way we were playing, so we needed a change. We changed the system and for that we made a very good game. It is important to be qualified two games before the end.
Maybe if we don’t win in the way we did, a part of you would be asking why Kevin didn’t play. But we have a squad and it was important to make changes because I was not happy in the way we were playing.
“Now we will still try to qualify in the first position of this group and if we continue playing in this way we will have more chances.”
At 2-1, Sevilla had a strong spell and it took a brilliant save by Joe Hart to deny Timothee Kolodziejczak before Vicente Iborra slammed the rebound into the side-netting. Earlier, Fernando Llorente vollyed over a fine chance.
But City created numerous other chances and, once comfortably 3-1 ahead, they controlled the second half.
Pellegrini said: “I’m very happy because I think we played a very complete game in all senses. We played against a very difficult Seville side. It is very difficult to win at this stadium.”