Hat-trick hero Raheem Sterling showed he can provide Manchester City with the muscle after Pep Guardiola claimed they were not strong enough in the box.
Guardiola insisted before last night’s game that City are not ready to win the Champions League because they are not clinical enough.
But Sterling displayed his ruthless streak as he bagged a hat-trick in 11 minutes and had a hand in City’s other two goals. The England star was unplayable and showed City have the cutting edge Guardiola wants if they are to triumph finally in Europe.
Sterling said: “It was difficult with them going man for man, it was tough to get space. But we had to stay patient, wait for a chance and take them when they came.
“I should have had four. Riyad Mahrez put me through and I was looking to put one on a plate for him. But I went through and should have finished it.”
City’s third straight group win in this entertaining game means they are within touching distance of a place in the knock-out stages. The only downside for the Blues was an injury to Rodri, who was forced off in the first half. Despite being Champions League newbies, Atalanta refused to be overawed by City and attacked them.
Forget parking the bus and hoping for the best, Atalanta went for City and should have taken the lead from a couple of early chances.
Josip Ilicic’s touch let him down when he was played in on the right before Timothy Castagne headed over from a glorious chance and Ederson saved a drive from Ilicic.
Atalanta’s bold approach made for an open game and Phil Foden revelled in this freedom on only his second start of the campaign.
The teenager played in Sterling on the left, whose cross went agonisingly behind Sergio Aguero, before setting up the Argentinian to blaze over.
Aguero was also denied by a superb fingertip save from Pierluigi Gollini in this absorbing contest.
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