Sergio Aguero scored a hat-trick – and missed two penalties – as Manchester City all but secured a place in the Champions League group stage with an emphatic 5-0 win over Steaua Bucharest on Tuesday night.
David Silva and Nolito were also on target as City, with Joe Hart again on the bench, eased to victory in the first leg of their play-off in Romania and maintained Pep Guardiola’s winning start.
City’s success would have been even more convincing had Aguero not missed twice from the spot in the opening 20 minutes at the Arena Nationala – continuing a poor European record – but ultimately that will probably not matter.
The tie looks well beyond Steaua heading into next week’s second leg in Manchester.
Whether or not the Romanians will face a City side containing Hart remains to be seen. Guardiola again left the England number one on the bench and rumours that his future may lie away from the Etihad Stadium are growing.
Yaya Toure was also left watching at home in Manchester after being omitted for a second successive game and some pertinent questions over City’s future make-up still need to be clarified.