The 4 Things We Learned From Man City's First Defeat Of The Season At Shakhtar Donetsk
Goals from Bernard and Ismaily made the difference for Paulo Fonseca’s side, who progress to the last 16 ahead of Napoli in Group F despite Sergio Aguero’s late penalty.
Below are four talking points from the game in the Ukraine.
1. Shakhtar’s Brazilians shine in victory
Shakhtar deserved their victory at the Metalist Stadium in Kharkiv, with several members of their Brazilian contingent catching the eye. The link between the Ukrainian side and the largest country in South America is now well established, and although the likes of Willian, Alex Teixeira, Luiz Adriano, Douglas Costa and Fernandinho have departed in recent years (the latter for Wednesday’s opponents), several of the quintet’s talented compatriots can currently be found within Shakhtar’s ranks.
Both of the hosts’ goalscorers were Brazilian, with fellow countryman Marlos providing the assist on each occasion. Ismaily’s overlapping runs from left-back caused City problems all evening, while Bernard, Taison and Marlos produced some excellent combinations in the attacking third. Midfielder Fred played a more disciplined role, but he too excelled alongside Taras Stepanenko in the engine room for an impressive Shakhtar side.
2. Lack of intensity proves fatal for City
In hindsight, all the ingredients were present for a disappointing City performance on Wednesday night: a heavily rotated line-up, no real need to win, and a much bigger game on the horizon. Pep Guardiola would still have expected more from the players he selected, though, with a lack of intensity perhaps the key reason why they were beaten in their final match of the Champions League group phase.
City did improve the longer the second half wore on; had their finishing been more precise, they could even have levelled things up in the final 15 minutes. Aguero’s penalty was a case of too little, too late, however, with the damage done in the opening period.
3. Ukrainian outfit should not be underestimated in last 16
Many predicted Napoli would progress from Group F alongside City, but Shakhtar deserve their place in the round of 16. A victory over the Italian club in matchday one set Fonseca’s charges on the right path, with a 3-0 defeat by Maurizio Sarri’s side last month negated by the Miners’ defeat of City here.
Shakhtar are potential last-16 opponents for Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and Liverpool, who would no doubt prefer to land them to Juventus or Real Madrid. The Ukrainians should not be underestimated, though, with Shakhtar’s first-half display against City proof of their quality across the pitch.
4. Mixed night for Foden in unfamiliar role
Phil Foden was no doubt surprised to learn he was starting as a left wing-back on Wednesday, but the 17-year-old – who became the youngest Englishman to have ever begun a Champions League game – would nevertheless have been delighted with an opportunity to show what he can do. It was a mixed night overall for the teenager, who was wasteful in his use of the ball at times and a little unsure of his positioning defensively.
Foden did play a wonderful pass through to Gabriel Jesus towards the end of the first half, though, and produced some excellent touches either side of the interval. He was, however, rather outshone by fellow academy graduate Brahim Diaz, the Spaniard entering the fray just after the hour-mark and impressing with his trickery and direct dribbling.