Despite a pair of missed penalties by Sergio Aguero, Manchester City eased past Steaua Bucharest in Romania and set themselves up for a cruise into the group stage with a 5-0 away win in the Champions League playoff round first leg.
Aguero missed penalties in the eighth and 21st minutes, but his teammates picked him up, and the Argentinian still managed a trio himself from open play to overshadow any negatives. David Silva started things off in the 13th minute, and it only got worse for the home side from there.
Raheem Sterling looked bright all match, and the youngster fed Aguero for City’s second in the 41st minute. After halftime, City was clinical as they put the matchup away. New signing Nolito got his first goal for City in the 49th minute on a threaded pass by Kevin De Bruyne. Aguero’s second came in the 78th minute thanks to a ball from Nolito, and the hat-trick came in the 89th minute when Fernandinho fed Aguero from midfield, and the Argentinian burst forward towards the box and finished under pressure.
City deserved the monstrous scoreline, outshooting Steaua 24-8 (12-2 on target), and holding 70% of possession through the match.
Elsewhere, Borussia Monchengladbach also took control of its matchup with Swiss side Young Boys, as the Germans won 3-1 on the road behind a brace from 31-year-old Brazilian striker Raffael. Andre Hahn scored as well to put Bonchengladbach well in front heading back home.
Dutch giants Ajax played to a disappointing 1-1 draw at Amsterdam Arena against Russian side FC Rostov. Ecudorian veteran Christian Noboa handed the visitors a surprising lead just 13 minutes in with a low free-kick that squirted through the wall and past goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen. Davy Klaassen bagged a penalty 34 minutes in to equalize, but the hosts will be disappointed to concede an away goal and will head to Russia with work to do.
FC Copenhagen took care of APOEL Nicosia 1-0 in Denmark, with young Serbian attacker Andrija Pavlovic collecting the winner just before halftime after a poor decision by APOEL’s Dutch goalkeeper Boy Waterman to come out and challenge Pavlovic on the wing, leaving his net vacated.
Finally, Dinamo Zagreb drew 1-1 at home with Austrian side FC Salzburg. Valentino Lazaro opened the scoring with a diving header in the 59th minute for Salzberg’s away goal. Croatian youngster Marko Rog leveled things in with a penalty in the 76th minute after Bernardo hacked down the 21-year-old in the box.