FC Basel 0 Manchester City 4: Ilkay Gundogan sets City on easy path to quarter-finals

John Percy
Man City celebrate a convincing win - Getty Images Europe

Victory number 34 from 41 games for Pep Guardiola and while there will be more difficult assignments ahead in the Champions League, this was an emphatic statement of intent.

Manchester City have all but secured their place in the quarter-finals and will be a team to fear across Europe after another rampant performance continued Guardiola’s pursuit of total excellence.

It felt like the night when City sent out a message to rival heavyweights such as Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, as FC Basel’s previously impressive record against English opposition was ripped up.

The second leg at the Etihad Stadium in early March is almost an irrelevance, after Guardiola’s quadruple hunters scored three goals in the opening 23 minutes here.

Sergio Aguero was inevitably among the scorers and has now claimed 198 goals in a City jersey; few would bet against him reaching his double century against Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup on Monday night.

There were also returns from injury for Leroy Sane, David Silva and Fabian Delph to ensure a stress-free evening for Guardiola against the Swiss champions. He is clearly in contention for his third Champions League trophy as a manager.

Vincent Kompany (far left) and his teammates salute the travelling Manchester CIty fans Credit: GETTY IMAGES

He said: “It’s an amazing result and though the tie is 180 minutes we are almost there in the quarter-finals. I’m not saying it is done because in football anything can happen, but overall I’m delighted.

“The first step was to do better in the Champions League than last season and then it’s how we arrive. It’s not easy to keep the level but we did it.

“It was also so important to win like this because we have Arsenal [in the Carabao Cup Final and the Premier League] and Chelsea before we play Basel in the second leg. But now we must prepare for Wigan.”

With a commanding and seemingly unassailable 16-point lead at the summit of the Premier League, the focus on Europe will now be even sharper for Guardiola.

He continues to waft away talk of the quadruple, as if the subject was an irritating fly, but optimism is building that this season could produce something truly historic.

City have only made it past the last-16 stage once before, under Manuel Pellegrini in the 2015-16 season when they reached the semi-finals, and that is a statistic this group of players will now change.

Ilkay Gundogan celebrates scoring Credit: GETTY IMAGES

There was actually an early scare in the sixth minute, when Dimitri Oberlin broke clear from the halfway line but the Basel forward never looked confident, despite Ederson charging out of his penalty area, and his tame shot was easily picked up by Nicolas Otamendi.

Eight minutes later, Oberlin, on loan from Red Bull Salzburg, then fell awkwardly in the City area under a challenge from Otamendi in what appeared a decent claim for a penalty.

But City’s latest masterclass began to take shape in the 14th minute, when Ilkay Gündogan rose to head in Kevin De Bruyne’s corner and open the floodgates. From that stage, they never looked back.

Basel had won four of their previous five home games against English clubs in the Champions League – beating Manchester United here in the group stages in November, while Liverpool and Chelsea have also departed St Jakob-Park with their noses bloodied in recent years.

Yet this was a chastening, almost embarrassing, experience for the hosts as City exerted total control.

Bernardo Silva extended their lead in the 18th minute with a wonderful dipping volley which arced over Basel goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik into the top corner.

Aguero then added a third goal with a devastating finish from 22 yards, hammering the ball past a flatfooted Vaclick. Three days after registering four goals against Leicester, Aguero is now edging towards the magic 200.

Sergio Aguero scores for Man City Credit: GETTY IMAGES

City were barely out of second gear and the only things missing from their first-half performance were the cigars and carpet slippers.

De Bruyne came close to a fourth yet, remarkably, Guardiola still found time to frequently wheel around in frustration as the occasional pass went awry. It seems near perfection is still not enough for the Catalan, wisely wearing a long black scarf as the temperatures plunged below minus.

Backed by their noisy band of supporters behind the goal, Basel did threaten briefly in the second half when Ederson produced a fine save to prevent Mohamed Elyounoussi’s swirling effort from finding the corner.

But normal service was resumed when Gundogan was afforded far too much time and space to bend another exquisite shot into the corner. We really are running out of superlatives.

There was even time for Guardiola to introduce substitute Sane, who has returned six weeks ahead of schedule from ankle ligament damage. De Bruyne, the arch string-puller, was also given a rest after being taken off with 27 minutes still to play.

City could have had more goals, too. The outstanding Gundogan came close to claiming a hat-trick but his shot was saved at close range by Vaclik and Kyle Walker missed a chance to square the ball back for Aguero.

In Europe, the blue moon is rising and City have nobody to fear.

9:39PM

FULL TIME!

With their place in the quarter-final more or less guaranteed you have to wonder who will stop City. 

Basel will be disappointed that they couldn't at least get one as they did trouble the visitors but they couldn't convert those early chances. Vaclik will be having nightmares until the return leg.

Who knows how many City will score at the Etihad?

9:36PM

90 mins + 2

And the referee blows the whistle in Switzerland to cap a fairly routine night for Pep Guardiola's men. 

9:33PM

90 mins

Two mins of added time.

Basel are giving it one last push and Oberlin's weak shot is easily collected by Ederson. What a night it could have been for the Swiss if he had taken his earlier chances.

9:31PM

87 mins

Ooh! Something is going on. Die fouls Gundogan and the City man pauses on the floor for a moment before jumping up and going for the Basel midfielder. 

I'm not sure why Ilkay got so angry but both men now have a yellow card. 

9:27PM

84 mins

Finally it seems that the Basel keeper has found his composure. 

Kevin Bua replaces Elyounoussi

Danilo on for Aguero

9:24PM

81 mins

Gundogan still looking for that treble but Frei cuts out his shot for a corner which Sane takes. It's headed out but the visitors soon regain possession. You wouldn't put it past them to score another one at the very least.

9:22PM

78 mins

Suchy with a sloppy ball and he's lucky there is no City player there to take advantage. 

The Basel fans are clearly enjoying their night as they continue to cheer their team despite the 4-0 deficit. 

9:19PM

Maybe he gets more with each goal...

9:17PM

74 mins

It's really turning into an game of keep-ball for Pep's men and it looks like Gundogan is going to get his hat-trick before Vaclik gets down well to smother the ball. 

The home keeper has definitely improved in the second half. 

9:14PM

Change for FC Basel

Albian Ajeti replaces Valentin Stocker

9:11PM

68 mins

Silva tries to get in on the act after he shoots from the edge of the box but his shot goes over. 

Oberlin with a really good chance as Ederson is stricken at the near post, but it's poor and it's out for a goal-kick. They could have had a goal and the Swiss side will be disappointed with their wastefulness.

Basel get a free-kick about 30 yard from goal and Oberlin tries to chip City's keeper but there isn't enough dip on the ball to trouble Ederson. 

9:08PM

65 mins

Basel still trying to make their way forward but you don't fancy their chances when they now have to contend with the fresh feet of D. Silva and Sane. 

The visitors have had 71% possession with 25 mins left. 

9:05PM

Another City change

David Silva replaces Kevin De Bruyne

Talk about an embarrassment of riches for Pep Guardiola

9:03PM

60 mins

Frei breaks up the City play in the middle of the park, but Oberlin wastes the ball and gives it straight back to a blue shirt. 

Basel aren't content to go for damage limitation and Fernandinho cuts out Stocker near the halfway line to pick up a yellow. I believe they call it 'taking one for the team'.

A bit of confusion in the City box before Kompany clears from the feet of Oberlin. 

9:00PM

Change for Manchester City

Leroy Sane replaces Raheem Sterling

8:59PM

56 mins

Vaclik will be having nightmares every time he pictures anyone in a pale blue shirt. It's hard to defend againt the might of City but you have to put in a better show than he has done. 

Oberlin looks to get the hosts a consolation but there is no one to tap home the ball he sends across the box. 

8:57PM

GOAL! 

Gundogan gets his brace and it is far too easy. Aguero plays him in on the edge of the box and he has time to organise his feet and send it into the top corner. 

8:55PM

53 mins

Sterling looked to be in on goal but just couldn't get his feed in order as he tried to hold up the ball until his teammates joined him. 

8:53PM

50 mins

Ooh, Ederson actually makes a save at his far post from Elyounoussi's right foot shot. It looked like he may have seen it late so did well to get a hand to it. 

Sane is warming up on the touchline much to the enjoyment of the visiting contingent. 

8:50PM

48 mins

De Bruyne has a shot from just outside the box but it's straight at the keeper and it's the easiest catch he's made all even. 

Oberlin finds a bit of space down the right but Walker is there to break up the play. It may take a bit of magic to get a Basel goal tonight. 

8:49PM

Second-Half

The visitors get us back underway and you have to wonder what Basel's gameplan is for the second-half. Ten behind the ball didn't work and getting in their face didn't.

8:46PM

We go again

The teams are out and can Basel keep this half to a draw, at least...

8:33PM

HALF-TIME!

And there's virtually no added time. You suspect the ref wanted to give Basel a break. 

Three goals in nine minutes puts City in complete control, as expected. The hosts will just hope they can keep a clean sheet in the second-half. 

8:29PM

43 mins

CIty seem to have relaxed these last few minutes but then Serey Die goes in slightly high on De Bruyne to concede another free-kick. You can understand his frustration, but you'll be no good to your team if you get sent off. 

8:27PM

40 mins

It appears all Xhaka's like yellow card's, although this isn't Granit of Arsenal but his older brother, Taulant who grapples with Sterling to concede a free-kick. 

I suspect that if the home side could end the game at 3-0 they'd be pretty happy. Basel will be worrying what the Premier League leaders will do when they host them at the Etihad. 

8:23PM

36 mins

It is starting to feel like a training ground keep-ball exercise. 

Delph comes down the left and picks out De Bruyne in the box but the midfielder can only send it over. It's alright though, I suspect they'll have another opportunity soon...

8:20PM

33 mins

Vaclik does his job and rushes out to stop Sterling running onto a pass. 

De Bruyne's corner is cleared but the ball is soon back in City's control as Ederson plays out from his box. 

8:17PM

30 mins

Basel are a persistent bunch and when they finally get on the ball, they try to send a long ball up and over. Sadly for Frei it seems as if the visiting back line has clocked on to their tactics. 

8:12PM

26 mins

Frei has a shot after City fail to clear the ball on the edge of the box but Elyounoussi is miles offside. 

City, particularly Kompany, will be keen to keep that clean sheet but Basel have breached their back line a couple of times.

8:09PM

GOAL! AGUEROOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Two more and he'll have 200 for City. You would not put it past him doing it tonight.

It's far too easy. 

Basel let Fernandinho waltz through their midfield and when they do tackle him it falls straight to Sergio, who slots it into the far left corner. The keeper doesn't even move. I moved more than Vaclik.

8:08PM

22 mins

Naturally the game is opening up for City now as Basel see all their hard work going down the pan. You get the feeling it may be damage limitation for the Swiss side now. 

8:05PM

GOAL!

Bernando Silva makes it two and I think it's time to say a prayer for the Basel defense. 

Sterling crosses from the left, B Silva brings it down on his chest and chips Vaclik. 

8:03PM

16 mins

Basel go up the other end with a ball over the top of the City defence, who don't look great tonight, but Ederson kicks it clear. 

The game is opening up now and you sense that the visitors will want to get a few more on the score sheet as as soon as possible. 

8:01PM

GOAL!

Gundogan opens the scoring for City. 

So simple and so beautiful. A Kevin De Bruyne corner from the right and Gundogan heads it back across goal. 

Once again, no one on the post. 

7:59PM

13 mins

Basel fans are screaming for a penalty after Oberlin goes down in the box. Otamendi gives him a 'this is England' shoulder barge and the ref waves play on. 

I've seen them given, that's for sure and home manager Raphael Wicky is understandably unhappy.

7:57PM

10 mins

Not much going on in Switzerland to be honest. The fans are in good voice and City have a lot of the ball but when there are ten men in faux Barcelona shirts standing between you and the goal, you know it could be a long night. 

7:52PM

6 mins

Fair play to Basel, City may have the majority of possession but Basel aren't slow to close them down. 

And Basel are baring down on City's goal after a mistake from Otamendi _who else? Oberlin latches onto a cross and he looks to be offside but Kompany is playing him on. Ederson is miles out of his goal but the home striker can't take advantage. 

7:50PM

4 mins

City have their first corner and Basel are already taking their places in their own half. You suspect they may spend a lot of time there tonight.

Bernando Silva sends a cross in from the near side and Gundogan gets a head to it but Vaclik pushes it over. It is - as expected all City at the moment. 

7:47PM

Kick-off

The home side get us underway and it looks pretty cold out there. 

Everyone is wearing gloves in the stadium, every the officials. 

7:45PM

Potential record breaker

Aguero is three away from 200 City goals...

7:44PM

The team's shake hands

FC BASEL

Vaclik, M. Lang, Xhaka, Lacroix, Suchy (C), Riveros, Frei, Serey Die, Elyounoussi, Stocker, Oberlin

Subs: Salvi, Petretta, Zuffi, Van Wolfswinkel, Ajeti, Manzambi, Bua

MAN CITY

Ederson, Walker, Kompany (C), Otamendi, Delph, Fernandinho, Gündogan, De Bruyne, Sterling, Bernardo, Agüero

Subs: Bravo, Danilo, Stones, Laporte, Sané, Silva, Foden

7:43PM

Moments away

Just a reminder that City have only lost two games this season. A 2-1 loss to  Shakhtar in the group stages of this competition and their 4-3 reverse at Liverpool in the league last month. A total of 5% of their games.

Basel's record isn't too bad, they've lost six of their 31 games - a total of 19%.

7:40PM

It looks like Sane has recovered

Leroy Sane will start on the bench in Switzerland Credit: Reuters

7:35PM

Ten minutes until kick-off

Taulant Xhaka, Éder Balanta and Raoul Petretta are a booking away from a ban. As is Danilo who starts on the bench for the visitors

7:33PM

A reminder of those starting XIs

FC BASEL

Vaclik, M. Lang, Xhaka, Lacroix, Suchy (C), Riveros, Frei, Serey Die, Elyounoussi, Stocker, Oberlin

Subs: Salvi, Petretta, Zuffi, Van Wolfswinkel, Ajeti, Manzambi, Bua

MAN CITY

Ederson, Walker, Kompany (C), Otamendi, Delph, Fernandinho, Gündogan, De Bruyne, Sterling, Bernardo, Agüero

Subs: Bravo, Danilo, Stones, Laporte, Sané, Silva, Foden

7:31PM

A word from Pep

"We have done well so far but in my experience in the Champions League, every game is tough. We are here with confidence but we know exactly what will happen if we are not at the right level."

He's clearly learnt from Monaco last season...

7:29PM

City 

The Premier League leaders have never played a Swiss team before but Guardiola did face Basel during his days at Barcelona. The Spanish side ran out 6-1 winners in 2008, only to lose to eventual winners Manchester United. 

7:25PM

FC Basel 

Of the eight Champions League games that the Swiss side have played against English opposition in the last five years, they have won just two. A 1-0 home win over Liverpool in 2014 and a 2-1 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in 2013. 

They have never managed to make the quarter-final's of Europe's top competition and there won't be many who fancy their chances against Guardiola's superstars - even over two legs. 

7:16PM

A word from City's captain

"What stands out with this team is that we try and stay humble. We prepare well and make sure we don't underestimate any opponent. 

"I've been able to take my understanding of the game to a different level thanks to him [Pep Guardiola]."

7:13PM

Formation

According to the all-seeing eye of UEFA, the home side will start in a 5-2-2-1 with Oberlin as the lone striker. 

City will start in a 4-3-3 with Sterling on the left of the front three, alongside Aguero and Bernardo Silva.

7:10PM

Manchester City team

City: Ederson, Walker, Kompany (C), Otamendi, Delph, Fernandinho, Gündogan, De Bruyne, Sterling, Bernardo, Agüero

Subs: Bravo, Danilo, Stones, Laporte, Sané, Silva, Foden

7:10PM

FC Basel team

Basel:Vaclik, M. Lang, Xhaka, Lacroix, Suchy, Riveros, Frei, Serey Die, Elyounoussi, Stocker, Oberlin

Subs: Salvi, Petretta, Zuffi, Van Wolfswinkel, Ajeti, Manzambi, Bua

7:05PM

45 minutes until kick-off

Can you believe this is Vincent Kompany's first Champions League game in 650 days? It's good to see the defender overcoming his injury problems and it will be interesting to see what affect he will have on this game.

6:58PM

New friends

This is the first time the two teams have met, although Basel did beat Manchester United in the group stages. 

6:53PM

Manchester City are ready

6:52PM

FC Basel are ready

6:51PM

The pitch is ready

6:49PM

Hello!

Good evening and welcome to the live-blog for tonight's biggest Champions League game: FC Basel vs Manchester City.

Here's some background on the tie...

City couldn’t have asked for a kinder draw than this as they face the rank outsiders of the Last 16 and progression should almost be a formality. Basel have won the last eight Swiss titles but they’re struggling to hold onto their domestic crown as they trail Young Boys by five points and it’s hard to see how they can hurt Pep Guardiola’s side. That being said, they did beat Man Utd here in November and have actually beaten four of the last five English sides to visit. But repeating that in the knockout stages is quite another thing.

City haven’t been at their very best in recent weeks as a combination of injuries and fatigue look to have been taking its toll on a squad that could do with having a couple more players as they attempt to fight on four fronts. Sergio Aguero’s form, though, can hardly be in question after he struck four times in the second half on Saturday to take his 2018 tally to 13 in just 10 games. Kevin de Bruyne, too, has been in sparkling form and while the defence might not be keeping many clean sheets they should have too much going forward for this limited Basel side.

City twice scored four times on the road in the group stages and five of their last seven Champions League away group matches have had at least four goals so the ‘overs’ is certainly worth considering. With just one clean sheet in City’s last 14 Champions League away matches, and only two in 10 matches in across all competitions in 2018 there’s every chance that Basel will score, but six of City’s last eight wins have come despite conceding and we’re confident they’ll still dispatch inferior opponents.

The suggestion that Basel will find the net is bolstered by the fact they’ve scored in all nine of their home Champions League games since 2015, though only twice did they score more than once – something they’ll probably have to do if they want to take anything from this tie. Therefore, Over 3.5 Goals has to be worth a punt at 11/8 while Man City to win and both teams to score is a tasty 9/5 shot.