Champions League: We must win Euro group, says City boss

MANCHESTER CITY 5 v CSKA MOSCOW 2

MANCHESTER City manager Manuel Pellegrini has challenged his side to win Group D, after sealing their qualification to the Champions League knockout stages with two games to spare last night.

Fresh from hitting Norwich for seven in the Premier League, a hat-trick from Alvaro Negredo, plus a brace from Sergio Aguero, making him the club’s all-time leading scorer in European football, ensured City romped through to the last 16 for the first time in their history.

City next play Viktoria Plzen at home before rounding off their campaign away to holders Bayern Munich.

And Pellegrini, who led Villarreal to the Champions League semi-final in 2006, knows their finishing position could prove vital.

“The most important thing is we can play the last two games of the group trying to be first in the group, that is also very important,” he said.

“Then we’ll see the draw. It’s so difficult to know because anything can happen, every team we play against will be very difficult.

“It’s the first step but important because we couldn’t do this in the last two years. Our first target was to qualify for the round of 16 and we did it.”

City took the lead on three minutes after David Silva was fouled from behind by former Manchester United midfielder Zoran Tosic inside the penalty area and Aguero dispatched the consequent spot-kick.

Aguero doubled City’s lead with his 12th goal in nine games when he spun past defender Alexei Berezoutski and drove into the bottom corner.

On the half hour Aguero turned provider with a low cross from the right that Negredo tapped into the empty net at the far post.

CSKA were given a lifeline when Pontus Wernbloom split the defence with a through pass and Seydou Doumbia rounded goalkeeper Kostel Pantilimon and finished into the empty net. But after half-time Yaya Toure looped a pass over the top of the defence, which Nasri squared for another Negredo tap in.

The visitors hit back again with a Doumbia penalty, following a needless trip on the striker from Gael Clichy, but Negredo completed his treble in second-half stoppage time, heading in James Milner’s deep cross.