After just 28 minutes, the Champions League group game between Manchester City and RB Leipzig on Wednesday evening seemed as good as decided: City led 2-0 and, as expected, had the game under control.
But then everything turned out differently, completely differently.
Because despite City's early leadership, an entertaining and sometimes ludicrous exchange of blows with no less than nine goals developed in the City of Manchester Stadium, which none of the participants on both sides will soon forget.
But one after anonther.
For the English champions, the all-important playmaker Kevin De Bruyne returned to the starting line-up for the first time this season after his ankle injury. On the right attacking side, coach Pep Guardiola relied on Riyad Mahrez from the start, with Gabriel Jesus, who was in good shape, took his place on the bench. And in defense, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Nathan Aké joined the team. Aké's nomination came as a surprise because the central defender had only sat on the bench in three Premier League games. But Guardiola was right: It was Aké, who scored the 1-0 after a quarter of an hour after a corner kick through the hundred million pound access Jack Grealish with a header.
A little more than ten minutes later, City increased the lead they earned at the time to 2-0, but with a curious own goal by Leipzig's Nordi Mukiele.
The young defender seemed unnecessarily hectic in the situation, but made up for his mistake when he placed on the other side of the pitch on Christopher Nkunku, who scored Leipzig's first goal of the evening with his head.
City was not greatly irritated by this, continued pressure and received a hand penalty shortly before the break whistle, which Mahrez shot into the right corner of the goal to make it 3-1.
The hopes of the guests did not last long
Leipzig also showed character after the break: Shortly after the start of the second half, they came up to one goal behind again - again with a header from Nkunku. But this time too, City quickly restored the old distance: Grealish dribbled with speed from the left in front of the Leipzig goal on his Champions League debut and circled the ball into the far corner. Hard to believe, but it was still not over: In the 73rd minute, Leipzig met again through hat-trick shooter Nkunku to connect - this time he did it with his foot - but once again the hopes of the guests did not last long, because only two minutes later, João Cancelo scored the 5-3 for City with a shot from outside the box. Leipzig was now finally defeated, Angeliño still saw yellow-red,and the shortly before substitute Jesus scored the 6: 3 a few minutes before the end of regular time.
Six goals for City - and that by five different goalscorers without counting Mukiele: That fits Guardiola's team's season so far.
The coach started the season without a nominal, so-called “real” center forward because Sergio Agüero left the club after last season and nothing came of the intended signing of Tottenham's Harry Kane.
World star Cristiano Ronaldo also preferred to return to his former club, Manchester United, after allegedly flirting with City.
Against Leipzig, as in all previous season games, Ferran Torres was a trained right-winger in the middle of the storm, who was also used in this position last season, but mainly on the wings.
"So let's do it as a team"
But the system works. City lost 1-0 to Tottenham at the start of the Premier League season, but this was followed by two 5-0 wins against Norwich and Arsenal and a 1-0 win against Leicester City last weekend. In the game, Bernardo Silva became the ninth player to score for the team this young season. Aké made himself number ten with his opening goal against Leipzig, Cancelo is the eleventh shooter in the league. “We don't have a real striker,” said Guardiola on Saturday, “so let's do it as a team.” The tactical tinkerer should like this variability, even if the three goals conceded will annoy him.
In the league table, City is fifth with nine points from four games. This season, the Abu Dhabi-financed club is again the favorite to win the championship - it would be their fourth in five years. The upgrading of rivals such as Chelsea FC and Manchester United does not change that. In the Champions League, City made it into the final for the first time in club history last season, but had to admit defeat to Chelsea 0-1. A deep disappointment, as Guardiola now admitted, but which made his players even more hungry for success. Guardiola has not been able to win the competition since his two Champions League victories in 2009 and 2011 with FC Barcelona.
In the next group game, City will face Paris Saint-Germain at the end of September. Although they only played a draw against Bruges on Wednesday, they should look closely at City's defensive performance until the direct test of strength, as the Guardian wrote: “City cannot afford a repetition against Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappé, Neymar and Co. They'll watch the videos and smell blood. "Keywords: