City cruised into the Champions League knock-out stages for the first time with a thumping 5-2 win over CSKA Moscow at the Etihad Stadium.
Bayern Munich's victory in Plzen means Manuel Pellegrini's side can't finish outside the top two in Group D - and that's with two games to spare, no less!
After the disappointment of the previous two European campaigns, the Sky Blues picked up where they’d left off against Norwich and long before the half-time whistle blew the match was effectively over as a contest.
Three goals to the good with just half-an-hour played, the City fans had been treated to ten goals in 120 minutes of scintillating football and though the whole team contributed, there were dazzling individual performances from Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri, David Silva and Alvaro Negredo in particular.
The fireworks in BT City Square hadn’t long ended before they began again on the pitch with the Sky Blues ahead inside three minutes
...City 5 CSKA 2
Silva slipped his marker and was about to pull the ball back from the bye-line when he was crudely chopped down in the six-yard box giving the referee the easiest decision he’ll have to make all season – Aguero planted home the penalty kick to keep his remarkable scoring run going.
The brilliant Argentinian then doubled City’s lead with a superb second goal on 20 minutes as the mesmeric Nasri played a crisp pass to his feet just inside the area and he span off his marker superbly before placing the ball past keeper Igor Akinfeev with aplomb.
And the goals kept coming.
Aguero, irrepressible all evening, picked up the ball on the right flank before sending a precision cross that Negredo happily tapped home from close range with just half-an-hour played
...City 5 CSKA 2...
The Russians were on the ropes, but they weren't entirely punch drunk. So total had the hosts’ dominance been that the opposition threat was momentarily dismissed and Seydou Doumbia was allowed to break clear and round Costel Pantilimon to reduce the arrears in first-half injury time.
City restored their three-goal advantage five after the break when Negredo was again the gleeful recipient of a team-mate’s brilliance – this time a sublime Nasri volleyed pass - to claim his second of the evening, leading to chants of ‘Feed the Beast and he will score’ – The Goat may sue!
Though 4-1 down, credit to CSKA for refusing to throw in the towel and they were rewarded with as a second goal on 71 minutes when Doumbia converted a penalty he had won himself when Gael Clichy fouled him in the box.
But the final word went to man-of-the-match Negredo who nodded home James Milner’s cross with the very last kick – or head – of the game, making it 5-2 on the night.
And that was that – history made, another five goals and guaranteed Champions League football after Christmas. Happy days indeed…