Published On: Fri, Aug 19th, 2016

Cohesive City stamp down on Steaua to begin European excursion

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Sergio Aguero missed two penalties but bagged a hat trick as Manchester City began its Champions League campaign with an overwhelming 5-0 defeat of Steaua Bucharest on Tuesday.

David Silva and Nolito also weighed in with goals in a match which showed both the early fruition of the Pep Guardiola era, but also the glaring deficiencies in its hapless opponent.

Aguero’s spot-kick bungles aside, City could’ve easily tallied double figures at the Arena Nationala.

The second leg of their play-off is set for Aug. 24, and it would take a comeback of Herculean proportions to deny Guardiola’s men a stroll into the group stages.

A 25-yard pop shot from Nicolae Stanciu flashed just wide of Willy Caballero‘s goal on three minutes, but the warning was heeded as City then swarmed forward with a tempo and fluidity similar to which it began against Sunderland three days earlier.

Only this time it lasted.

Just as he did in the weekend’s edged win, the reinvigorated Raheem Sterling won an early penalty after deceiving Sulley Muniru with his quick feet. But Aguero, normally so reliable from the spot on domestic duty, was excellently thwarted by Florin Nita, with Nolito barrelling the rebound off the bar.

City was not disheartened and continued to dominate, and it was the live-wire Sterling who teed up David Silva for the game’s opener.

The Spaniard was expertly finding pockets of space in the Steaua area, and got his goal when Sterling pinched possession from Alin Tosca and then turned the defender’s futile efforts to atone for his error before finding Silva.

Steaua’s backline was in disarray, but Aguero was incredibly unsuccessful once again from 12 yards. Aleksandar Kolarov was taken down in the area by clumsy sliding tackle from Gabriel Enache, but the diminutive Argentine proceeded to sky his effort for his fourth miss in five penalty attempts during continental competition.

Related – Watch: Aguero misses 2 penalties within 15 minutes

On 41 minutes, however, Aguero finally doubled City’s advantage. For the first time in his City career, Sterling made it two assists in one match when he found the striker on the edge of the 18-yard box. Aguero made no mistake, side-footing a slide-rule finish into the bottom corner.

City continued to exert its supremacy in the second stanza, with Nolito scoring his first goal for the club after Kevin De Bruyne found his new teammate being allowed acres of space by the Romanian’s wretched defence.

Fernandinho was superb busying himself as the crux in Guardiola’s lineup, and the forward forays were getting more rhythmic with each passing minute. The interplay between Nolito and Aguero for the latter’s second on 78 minutes was frightening.

Steaua was being ripped to shreds.

The rout was completed 11 minutes later, when Aguero claimed a treble by banging in off the post thanks to more accommodating defending by the host.

City returns to action in the Potteries against Stoke City on Saturday, before completing what has become a formality against Steaua next Wednesday. The humbled Steaua side, meanwhile, has four days to lick its wounds until city rival Dinamo Bucharest visits in a weekend showpiece.

Related: Champions League play-off results

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