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De Bruyne the driving force as City prove irresistible

At some point one can only presume that Pep Guardiola\'s Manchester City will draw a game, or perhaps even lose one.

Published: 15th September 2016 07:54 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th September 2016 07:54 AM   |  A+A-

De Bruyne-AP

Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne, right takes the ball past Moenchengladbach's Julian Korb during the Champions League group C soccer match at the Etihad Stadium between Manchester City and Borussia Moenchengladbach in Manchester, England, Wednesday, S

At some point one can only presume that Pep Guardiola's Manchester City will draw a game, or perhaps even lose one, but for the time being the perfect start to what they hope will be the perfect season shows no sign of abating, come rain or shine.

This re-arranged Champions League Group C opener, postponed from the previous night, was never in doubt from the moment Sergio Aguero scored the first of his

hat-trick of goals on eight minutes and City assumed control against a Borussia Monchengladbach team with ambitions to play good -football themselves. There is playing good football, and then there is playing at the standard at which Guardiola's team are operating.

Running the show is the brilliant Kevin de Bruyne, who picks out a pass as well as anyone, and is thriving as a playmaker who only ever seems to pass the ball forward. There must have been times when he knocked it sideways but if there were, they were hard to recall.

As for Aguero, he plundered a hat-trick despite spending much of the game being admonished by Guardiola, who seemed to think that his centre-forward gave the ball away much too often. Aguero might even have had more and there were chances before his third, which came when he majestically rolled a boot over the ball to put goalkeeper Yann Sommer on the deck.

Then there was Raheem Sterling, another man who went off to a standing ovation from the home crowd and a kiss on the forehead from his manager as he crossed the touchline. Sterling still has some of the same problems, chiefly with his finishing, but so much of his game has a much greater clarity about it and on the left wing he rewarded the faith that Guardiola has placed in him.

The Guardiola effect was in evidence all over the pitch: even Jesus Navas looks a more assured footballer. This was the club's most confident start to a Champions League campaign since the modern City first entered the competition in 2011. They have won seven out of seven this season and face Bournemouth on Saturday with a real momentum building behind their new manager.

Twenty-four hours after the great rainstorm of Manchester 2016, Guardiola found himself forced into a change from the team that never played, when David Silva reported some discomfort in training and was replaced as a precaution.

The new man was not a bad alternative - the German midfielder Ilkay Gundogan - and his first-half performance was as silky as you might expect. There are more to come too, with Vincent Kompany and Gabriel Jesus to be introduced into this Guardiola-era team, who look better with every game.

They were up against a Monchengladbach who try to play a bit like the Guardiola teams of the past, in that they are a good passing side, or at least they were when City allowed them to be. Really, the home side could have been four or five goals to the good at half-time and that the margin was just two said more about their wayward finishing.

Gundogan and De Bruyne were in charge and City poured forward at every opportunity. Aguero scored his first at the near post from Aleksandar Kolarov's cross from the left and there should have been another shortly after, when the Argentine took a touch in the box, and played in Gundogan, who had his effort saved by Yann Sommer.

City move the ball so quickly and it can be overwhelming for their opposition. Aguero appeared to be fouled on 13 minutes by Tobias Strobl, one of three Monchengladbach centre-backs, and had a good claim for a penalty. City were awarded one on 28 minutes when De Bruyne's pass was deflected into Gundogan's path and he went over Christoph Kramer's foot.

The replays showed that one of Gundogan's boots was outside the box and there could have been a case for giving the free-kick instead. But Aguero dispatched the penalty and it was hardly a lead of which City were undeserving.

It was a long way from a full house at the Etihad after the postponement and a reduction of the capacity for two of the three Champions League group games, Barcelona excluded. Those who stayed away missed a treat: there is none of the hesitancy in this competition from which City sides have suffered in the past.

Prior to last night City had lost three of their five opening Champions League games and one of those defeats, against Juventus last season, was at home. They were in control from the start last night and although there was a brief rally from the German team before half-time it never looked like there was a way back into the match for them.

There was a substitute's run-out for Thorgan Hazard, one of the younger brothers of Chelsea's Eden, but not much Monchengladbach could do about the complete mastery of the home side. City were liveliest down the left wing, where Sterling kept the first-half substitute Julian Korb busy.

On 73 minutes De Bruyne played in his English team-mate in on goal, but Sterling just lacked the composure to beat Sommer. Last season that would have heralded sighs all around, but Sterling is, for now at least, compensating in other areas of his game. Aguero had a close-range effort saved from Navas's cross before he completed his hat-trick on 77 minutes, played in by Sterling's excellent ball through the Monchengladbach defence.

The fourth goal was created by Leroy Sane, a replacement for Sterling who made an impact in the Manchester derby on Saturday too. He navigated his way through two challenges and cut the ball back for another substitute, Kelechi Iheanacho, to drill home. The move had been started by De Bruyne yet again, and although he had no goals to show for it, the Belgian maestro's influence was all over this match.

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