After running the rule over Spurs and Liverpool’s UEFA Champions League matches in yesterday’s Scout Notes, we now turn our attention to both Manchester clubs’ European exploits.
Manchester City delivered what is becoming a routine six-goal victory, with Raheem Sterling continuing his excellent run of form and the improving Gabriel Jesus reminding Pep Guardiola – and us Fantasy managers – that he has the potential to be a viable alternative to Sergio Aguero in attack.
In Turin, Manchester United appeared to be heading for a second successive 1-0 defeat to Juventus before a remarkable turnaround in the last five minutes rescued a priceless victory for Jose Mourinho’s side.
We’ve got all the goals, assists, injury news, Fantasy talking points and manager quotes on an eventful – and controversial – night in the Champions League.
Manchester City 6-0 Shakhtar Donetsk
- Goals: David Silva (£8.5m), Gabriel Jesus (£10.1m) x3, Raheem Sterling (£11.1m), Riyad Mahrez (£8.7m)
- Assists: Riyad Mahrez x2, Raheem Sterling, Oleksandr Zinchenko (£4.8m), David Silva, Ilkay Gundogan (£5.4m)
Raheem Sterling (£11.1m) continued where he left off from his 21-point haul on Sunday with another superb display at the Etihad, capping off his performance with a brilliant individual effort just after the interval.
After playing on the right flank in the 6-1 win over Southampton, Sterling was switched over to the opposite wing to accommodate Riyad Mahrez‘s (£8.7m) recall and the two wide-men were City’s stand-out players as Shakhtar were swept aside with minimum effort.
Sterling’s goal was the England winger at this best, collecting the ball from Oleksandr Zinchenko (£4.8m) in the centre of midfield, riding two clumsy Shakhtar challenges and curling a sublime finish past visiting goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov from the edge of the box.
That was Sterling’s only shot in the entire match, echoing perhaps what we mentioned on Sunday about him being more of a goal threat when stationed on the right, but the former Liverpool midfielder was a menace regardless and wrought havoc with his pace and trickery.
He and Mahrez made more key passes (three each) than any other player on show last night and Sterling should have had another assist to his name when he set Gabriel Jesus (£10.1m) free on goal, only for the Brazilian to dally on the ball and allow a covering Shakhtar defender to block his shot.
The assist that Sterling did claim last night was controversial – the England international stubbing his toe into the ground when clean through on goal and awarded a penalty despite visiting defender Mykola Matvyenko not being within a yard of him.
Pep Guardiola defended his player after the match:
We realised it was not a penalty. He didn’t want to concede a goal. He could do that (argue the decision). We don’t like to score goals in that situation but he didn’t realise. He wanted to make a chip and touched the grass.
Sterling lasting 90 minutes for the second time in four days would perhaps be a worry for his Fantasy owners going into the Manchester derby, but there has been a precedent of Sterling starting three times in a week already this season: the premium midfielder featuring against Fulham, Lyon and Cardiff within the space of seven days in mid-September.
Sterling also started all three matches between Gameweeks 7 and 8 (Brighton and Liverpool in the Premier League, Hoffenheim in the Champions League), though did have an extra day of recovery before the trip to Anfield.
With the international break looming and the exceptional form he is showing in recent weeks, it would be a major surprise if Guardiola decided to bench Sterling for the visit of their cross-city rivals.
Mahrez was the fall guy against Southampton last Sunday and his exceptional display against Shakhtar last night would have been hard to swallow for his FPL owners, with the former Leicester man registering a goal and two assists.
Mahrez now looks to have very much found his feet at City on the right flank and presents Guardiola with a real selection headache on Sunday, with Leroy Sane (£9.2m) – who was an unused substitute last night – also in excellent form.
The Algerian set up City’s opening goal with an excellent low ball across the Shakhtar six-yard box for David Silva (£8.5m) to tap in and also supplied his side’s sixth and final effort, setting Jesus free in stoppage time for his well-taken hat-trick goal.
Mahrez’s 84th-minute strike was reward for his performance against the Ukrainian champions.
Silva and Bernardo (£7.6m) were their usual excellent selves in the central midfield three, with the Portugal international going close to joining “Merlin” on the scoresheet with a shot that deflected narrowly over the Shakhtar bar.
As was the case at the weekend, the pair’s superb displays in those roles don’t necessarily translate into strong attacking KPIs: Silva and Bernardo didn’t register one key pass between them last night.
The veteran Spanish midfielder still emerged with a goal and Fantasy assist to his name, however, after being felled for City’s second penalty.
Both Silva and Fernandinho (£5.4m) were withdrawn with around a quarter of an hour remaining, perhaps an indication that Guardiola was preserving them for the Manchester derby.
Sergio Aguero (£11.4m) was likely rested for that match too as he watched this rout of Shakhtar from the bench, but Fantasy managers who own the Argentinean forward would have perhaps been perturbed by the sight of Jesus scoring a hat-trick in his absence.
The “good” news on that front is that two of the Brazilian striker’s goals came from the penalty spot and until his injury-time hat-trick strike (a beautifully executed chip) Jesus had once again struggled in front of goal from open play: that aforementioned miss from Sterling’s through-ball perhaps highlighting the difference between Aguero and his young positional rival at the present moment.
Guardiola though highlighted the boost that a hat-trick might give to Jesus’s confidence:
It’s important. Strikers live for goals but the quality of Gabriel is that it doesn’t matter what happens – he always fights.
You cannot have any regrets. At 2-0, he had another clear option (which he missed) but he continued to fight and help us.
We need all the guys for the rest of the season. It is important for his confidence and for the rest of the team.
Benjamin Mendy (£6.4m) was another City player to be given the night off, suggesting he will be back in contention for the visit of Jose Mourinho’s side on Sunday, while Kyle Walker (£6.5m) was given a breather just after the hour mark.
John Stones (£5.3m) and Aymeric Laporte (£5.9m) played the full match again at centre-half, though had comfortable evenings at the back.
Ilkay Gundogan (£5.4m) returned from injury to make his first appearance in almost two months, while Nicolas Otamendi (£6.1m) was fit enough for a place on the bench.
Manchester City XI (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker (Danilo 61′), Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko; Fernandinho (Delph 76′), Silva (Gundogan 73′), Bernardo; Mahrez, Jesus, Sterling.
Juventus 1-2 Manchester United
- Goals: Juan Mata (£6.2m), Alex Sandro own-goal
- Assists: Paul Pogba (£8.0m)
After 85 minutes of the game at the Juventus Stadium on Wednesday evening, Manchester United seemed set for an honourable defeat in what is one of the trickiest away fixtures in European competition.
Juventus had been the dominant side and turned the screw in the second half after Cristiano Ronaldo’s opener, but the Red Devils had produced a dogged performance to stick with the Italian giants for much of the tie and it had taken a stunning volley from the former Real Madrid man to break the deadlock on 65 minutes.
Ander Herrera (£5.0m) epitomised United’s display with a streetwise performance in central midfield, although the gritty display of the Spanish spoiler and those around him weren’t particularly eye-catching from a Fantasy perspective.
Indeed, up until United’s equaliser, the visitors had only troubled Wojciech Szczesny once in the Juventus goal, via Paul Pogba‘s (£8.0m) tame shot just before the interval.
Without wanting to veer into hyperbole, Pogba was perhaps United’s worst player last night. The Frenchman was sloppy in possession and perhaps the occasion of his return to Turin got the better of him, with his unsuccessful (and maddening) tricks and flicks smacking of a player who was trying too hard.
That being said, Pogba still walked away from the match with a “Fantasy assist” after he was felled for the free-kick that substitute Juan Mata (£6.2m) converted on 86 minutes.
It would be difficult to judge any player’s attacking display against the might of the Juventus defence, so limited are the opportunities afforded by Messrs Chiellini and Bonnucci, but Anthony Martial (£7.5m) produced an encouraging performance for his ever-growing number of owners in FPL.
The Frenchman was particularly effective in the second half, causing problems for the Juventus backline with his dribbling and had gone closest to scoring before Mata’s leveller when curling a shot narrowly wide of Szczesny’s post.
His work-rate when out of possession was also crucial to the United effort, as was that of Alexis Sanchez (£10.0m) who played as United’s “number nine” in the continued absence of Romelu Lukaku (£10.8m).
Martial also should have emerged from United’s victory with an assist after setting substitute Marcus Rashford (£6.7m) free on goal in stoppage time, only for the youngster to spurn the gilt-edged chance.
Chris Smalling (£5.8m) and Victor Lindelof (£4.8m) were better than they had been at Bournemouth on Saturday, though Juventus did hit the woodwork twice and carved out a number of presentable opportunities to put the game to bed after Ronaldo’s opener – the best of which fell to Juan Cuadrado, who skied his clear-cut chance on 74 minutes.
Ashley Young (£5.7m) was the pick of United’s full-backs both with and without the ball and he demonstrated his threat from dead-ball situations by playing a pivotal role in the Red Devils’ winner, with his inswinging free-kick being bundled into his own net by Alex Sandro via a couple of deflections.
On the injury front, there was positive news for United too, with an admittedly rusty-looking Jesse Lingard (£6.7m) making his first start in almost two months and the fit-again Marouane Fellaini (£4.9m) having his usual impact off the bench.
The Belgian is a favourite of Mourinho’s and the United boss paid tribute to his towering midfielder’s influence after full-time:
I think he was important to make the team alive again. Because when you concede the goal the team had a period of, by the psychological point of view, we went down a little bit and then Juventus was finally in control and was finally dangerous in the counter-attack.
And Fellaini gave us an option to be alive again by playing direct, by bringing the game again to the last third and by being in last third was giving us the chance to create situations like we did.
We start winning first balls in the air, Massimiliano [Allegri] had to react, had to bring [Andrea] Barzagli, when he bring Barzagli, [Juan] Cuadrado goes out, and their counter-attack is less dangerous because they are trying to control.
And then we create, we create a Rashford shot I thought was a goal and the free-kick Mata scored beautifully, and that lateral free-kick I still don’t know who scored. But all I know is we just put the ball in the net.
Manchester United XI (4-3-3): De Gea; Young, Lindelof, Smalling, Shaw; Herrera (Mata 79′), Matic, Pogba; Lingard (Rashford 70′), Sanchez (Fellaini 79′), Martial.
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