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Man City ease past Brugge after slow start

MANCHESTER, England :Manchester City got back to winning ways with a 4-1 victory over Brugge to move to within sight of the Champions League knockout rounds although it was not a trouble-free night for Pep Guardiola's side on Wednesday.

In the end, goals by Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus earned a comfortable enough victory to leave City top of Group A with nine points after Paris St Germain could only draw with RB Leipzig.

But there were periods after a John Stones own goal gave Brugge an early equaliser in which City looked uncomfortable.

The Belgians had several decent opportunities before Mahrez headed Pep Guardiola's side back in front in the 54th minute. Sterling gave City breathing space with a tap-in after 72 minutes and the hosts were able to coast home.

Substitute Jesus gave the scoreline an emphatic look as he added the fourth with the last kick of the game.

"The manager wasn't happy at halftime and you have to take his advice," Foden said. "He changed things and we were much better in the second half.

"Once we got our rhythm the chances started opening up."

City, who suffered a surprise Premier League defeat by Crystal Palace at the weekend following last week's League Cup exit, need only one point from their remaining two games to secure their last-16 place.

Brugge are in third spot with four points.

City began in confident fashion and went ahead when Foden tapped in from close range from Joao Cancelo's pass in the 15th minute.

But they were stunned two minutes later when Hans Vanaken's shot was well saved by Ederson but Bernardo Silva's attempted clearance struck Stones in the head and the ball rebounded into the net.

City lacked their usual fluency and Brugge threatened on the break.

The visitors had a glorious chance to go ahead when Charles De Ketelaere missed the target from close range shortly after the interval and they were made to pay a minute later when Mahrez headed in Cancelo's cross to calm City nerves.

A fluent City move ended with Ilkay Gundogan squaring for substitute Sterling to convert to end a 12-match goal drought.

Jesus got in on the act when he stroked home another Cancelo assist and the English champions' night got even better as news of a late Leipzig equaliser left them top of the group from PSG by one point.

Brugges can take heart from a positive display and while they are not mathematically out of the running for a top-two spot, De Ketelaere said the priority was now finishing third.

"We showed a good reaction in the first half with that equaliser. After that they didn't really create good chances anymore in the first half. But yes, in the second half they kept putting pressure on," he said.

"It is now up to us to show that we deserve a place in the Europa League."

Source: Reuters

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