MANCHESTER, England — Manchester City sailed through to the Champions League quarter-finals after they played out a 0-0 draw against Sporting in their last-16 second leg on Wednesday, progressing 5-0 on aggregate.
City had already done the hard work in their thrashing of the Portuguese side in the first leg three weeks ago in Lisbon, and could take it easy against an inferior Sporting at the Etihad Stadium.
Coach Pep Guardiola could afford to make several changes to his starting team, with one of those players coming in — Raheem Sterling — going closest to scoring in the first half after his close-range effort was saved.
Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus, making his first Champions League start of the season, did have the ball in the net early in the second half, but his clever finish was ruled out for offside after a VAR review.
Paulinho almost earned Sporting victory late on, but it was not to be as City held on to ensure they have now reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League in each of the last five seasons, the only English side to do so over this period.
The achievement was not lost on Guardiola as he looks to win the only major trophy that has eluded him during his time at City.
“The last decade, step by step, the club grew and for many years we were there in the Champions League and qualifying for the last 16,” he told BT Sport.
“Now again, we’re in the quarterfinal and among the best eight teams in Europe. When I qualify for the quarterfinals, I enjoy it, when I qualify for the last 16, too. I know how difficult it is.”
Sporting coach Ruben Amorim was certainly happy to see the back of City.
“We were very unlucky in the draw,” he told Eleven Sports. “Last year, we were eliminated by LASK Linz and this year by Manchester City, one of the best teams in the world.
“It’s always positive not to lose away to a powerful opponent like this.” — Reuters