Manuel Pellegrini praised birthday boy Raheem Sterling as his two goals gave the Chilean manager one of his best nights in Europe against Borussia Monchengladbach.
Manchester City produced an incredible second-half performance as two goals from Sterling and one from Wilfried Bony added to David Silva’s first-half strike to clinch a 4-2 victory.
Pellegrini revealed he told Sterling to score twice before the game, which the English winger delivered to give the Etihad side a very special night.
“It was his birthday – I told him before the game that the minimum he had to do today was score two goals. I’m not joking,” the City manager declared.
“Last year we played very well against Bayern and Roma but this is one of the best nights we’ve had in Europe.
“If we play the way we did in the second half we can play against any team. It’s the way we normally work – it’s the way I like us to play.”
City had been 2-1 down at half-time to Monchengladbach, before their much improved second-half display clinched a victory which ensured top spot in Group D.
Sterling was at the heart of this, thanks to his two goals within just 112 seconds of each other.
These goals also made the English winger the first player to score two goals in a single Champions League game for the Citizens.
City weren’t without trouble on the night however, and they conceded two or more goals for the ninth time in their last 11 Champions League home games.
Nevertheless City secured top spot in the Champions League group stages for the first time, meaning Pellegrini can now look forward to Monday’s knockout stage draw.
“It’s better to finish first but all the important teams will be in the round of 16 – if you want to win the title you have to play against the biggest teams,” City’s 62-year-old manager said.
“I always use the example of when I was at Malaga – everyone wanted Malaga but we did very well – we won’t have an easy match.
“Of course it’s better not to draw Barcelona or Real Madrid at this stage but it’s only one round we avoid them.”
Image courtesy of MCFC via YouTube, with thanks.