It was the moment he had waited his whole life for. It was the reason he reluctantly said goodbye to his boyhood club Aston Villa and Jack Grealish certainly made an impression as he scored his first UEFA Champions League goal for Manchester City.
The midfielder got his first taste of Europe’s most glamorous competition and he shone at the Etihad Stadium as Pep Guardiola’s side got off to a flying start with a 6-3 victory over RB Leipzig. The England international has taken to the English champions like a duck to water and he has appeared to thrive off his British-record £100million price tag.
Football fans in England have known for a while how impressive the Birmingham-born star is, now Grealish has taken it upon himself to introduce himself to the continent. Having deposed his Three Lions teammate Raheem Sterling, Grealish looked to dazzle supporters and cause headaches for defenders. His fine performance started with him contributing to the opening goal of the game, flouting his set-piece abilities of which he was able to the unmarked Nathan Ake from a corner.
He constantly looked dangerous with his golden slicked hair bouncing as he glided across the field, and his famous headband was working overtime as he fired in his first Champions League goal. It was a trademark Grealish goal as he worked his way into the box from the left before unleashing a curling effort into the far corner. He has well and truly settled into his new home and there is certainly more magic from the England wide-man to come.
Guardiola will ask questions of his defence as they conceded three but all the questions regarding his side needing a striker will be quashed. This was the third game this season where they had found the back of the net over five times, and the Spanish boss will be delighted that goals are coming from all over the pitch - all six goals were by different scorers. There have been positive signs for a side chasing the domestic and European crowns and while there are things to work on the defensive side of the operation, City have shown once again the quality they possess to create and hurt just about any side in Europe.
After Ake's headed opener, City sparked into life in the final third as Riyad Mahrez came close minutes later, his effort was deflected wide but no corner was given. Ake, high on the goal rush could have added his second of the night as he sprinted in to meet Kevin De Bruyne’s inviting cross but he couldn’t quite reach it.
The lead was doubled by a defender, just not one of City’s as Nordi Mukiele headed a Kevin De Bruyne cross past his own goalkeeper with a severe lack of communication between the pair resulting in the calamitous goal. Although they were not particularly threatening in the first-half, the visitors did have the ball in the back of the net through summer signing Andre Silva, but he was flagged offside, although City didn't head the warning signs.
They were nearly punished by a former comrade in Angelino, the Spaniard was released in acres of space down the left but his low-drilled ball into the box was hooked clear by Ake. This move ignited the visitors, who started to grow in confidence and they managed to get a goal back before the break through a Christopher Nkunku header. A ball in from the left was headed back into a dangerous area by Mukiele and Nkunku gave it the extra touch to beat Ederson.
The visitors’ jubilation was short-lived as the hosts extended their lead again through a Riyad Mahrez penalty. An aerial ball was headed by Ferran Torres and it hit Lukas Klostermann’s arm which was in an unnatural position, but Jesse Marsch’s side pulled a goal back early in the second-half and it was another Nkunku header. Dani Olmo floated an inviting ball in at the near post and the attacker thumped the ball home to bring the contest alive again.
The goal fest continued and it was the main man Grealish who got his name on the scoresheet to the delight of the home fans, but despite the deficit, RB Leipzig would not lie down. Last season’s finalists were troubled again as Nkunku completed his hat-trick with a powerful effort from the right side of the area into the far corner, before City responded through a sublime Joao Cancelo strike to reassert their two-goal lead. It got worse for Marsch’s side as Angelino was given his marching orders for his second yellow card and Gabriel Jesus got in on the action to make it 6-3.
Not the perfect night for Man City or Guardiola, but they've thrilled us once again and Grealish has shone under Europe's biggest spotlight. Next up for him in this competition, a trip to Paris to face-off against Lionel Messi.