ISTANBUL (AP) — Manchester City will be playing in its second Champions League final in three years when the English team meets Inter Milan in Istanbul on Saturday.
Here’s look at City’s path to the final:
City was handed a rather benign group containing Borussia Dortmund, a Sevilla team that had a poor start to the season, and Danish outsider FC Copenhagen. City coasted through it, winning its first three games — 4-0 at Sevilla, 2-1 at home to Dortmund and 5-0 at home to Copenhagen — before a 0-0 draw in Denmark secured a place in the round of 16 with two games to spare. That marked the first time City failed to score in a match this season, though the team did play more than an hour with 10 men after Sergio Gomez’s red card and saw Riyad Mahrez have a penalty saved. City finished with a 0-0 draw at Dortmund and beat Sevilla 3-1 at home. The highlight of the group stage for City was Erling Haaland’s flying volley for the winner against Dortmund, his former club.
The second leg against Leipzig was Haaland’s most prolific match in a City shirt. The striker scored five goals before the hour mark in a 7-0 win to complete an 8-1 aggregate victory. Only two players — Argentina great Lionel Messi and Brazilian forward Luiz Adriano — had previously scored five goals in a single Champions League game. It was Leipzig’s heaviest European loss and a shock given the way the German team troubled City at times in their 1-1 draw in the first leg, when Mahrez scored the opener. Leipzig was far too open in the return match, playing right into City’s hands, with Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne also scoring.
City’s 4-1 aggregate win over Bayern Munich wasn’t as convincing as the score suggests — as manager Pep Guardiola later said. City was clinical in a 3-0 victory in the first leg at Etihad Stadium, with Rodri’s left-foot curler from outside the area breaking the deadlock in a high-quality first half before goals from Bernardo Silva and Haaland pressed home City’s advantage in the final 20 minutes. City was wobbling early in the second leg but held on and managed to take the lead through Haaland following a length-of-the-field counterattack led by De Bruyne. By then, Haaland had already skied a penalty over the crossbar and Joshua Kimmich grabbed a late consolation for Bayern, also from the spot.
City avenged last season’s painful semifinal exit at the hands of Real Madrid, drawing 1-1 in the Spanish capital before producing arguably its best display under Guardiola to win the second leg 4-0 at home. De Bruyne’s long-range second-half equalizer at the Santiago Bernabeu canceled out Vinicius Junior’s equally sublime opener and gave City the platform to overpower Madrid a week later. Silva scored two first-half goals and there were more after halftime for Manuel Akanji and Julian Alvarez in a City performance brimming with power and confidence. “We feel unstoppable,” City winger Jack Grealish said.
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