Skipper Vincent Kompany insists Manchester City have turned a European corner after moving to within touching distance of a first ever Champions League quarter-final spot following a slick victory over Dynamo Kiev last night.
Not since 2012 had an English club won the first leg of a knockout clash in this competition but goals from Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Yaya Toure amended that statistic, irrespective of midfielder Vitaliy Buyalskiy’s second-half strike.
Having suffered successive exits at this stage after being paired with Catalan giants Barcelona, City took advantage of a kinder draw this time around, although Kompany believes his side also showcased a growth in stature.
“I’d say for the first time we feel we’re going into the second tie with a fairly good chance of going through, which has never been the case so far,” said Kompany, who was one of 10 changes made by boss Manuel Pellegrini from Sunday’s 5-1 FA Cup thumping at Chelsea.
“But we need to improve year on year. The main thing is, irrespective of the fact we didn’t play Barcelona this year, this game would always have been a difficult game and we handled it well. There was a lot of maturity in the team.
“At the same time, we looked as though we were a team that was hungry for success. We didn’t just play for the 0-0 result or 1-0 result, we just tried to finish the game off today.”
English teams had failed to record victory on their last five Champions League visits to Ukraine, and spritely forward Andriy Yarmolenko gave City an early scare when his blasted cross-shot was palmed upwards and onto the top of his crossbar by Joe Hart.
City recovered their poise and opened the scoring after 15 minutes when a towering Toure nodded Silva’s corner into the path of Aguero, who controlled the ball on his chest and volleyed past Oleksandr Shovkovskiy for his 16th goal in 17 Champions League matches.
A confident and robust City doubled their lead shortly before half-time when Aguero freed an overlapping Raheem Sterling with a clever flick and his enticing cross was powered into the roof of the net by Silva.
Dynamo, who had not played competitively since 9 December due to the Ukrainian winter break, barely threatened but halved their deficit moments before the hour mark as Buyalskiy’s 25-yard shot deflected off centre-half Nicolas Otamendi and beyond a wrong-footed Hart.
England stopper Hart then repelled Buyalskiy with a strong one-handed save, while an unmarked Toure glanced wide before the Ivorian midfielder whipped a clinical curling effort beyond Shovkovskiy in the final minute.