Manchester City FC's 3-0 defeat of Villarreal CF at El Madrigal moved them into second place in UEFA Champions League Group A but also registered their half-century of goals in just 17 competitive matches this season.
That alone makes Roberto Mancini's side daunting opponents. But the fact City's 49th and 51st goals were produced by Yaya Touré, by trade a midfielder who won this competition in central defence for FC Barcelona, simply indicates the depth of their firepower. Either side of a calmly dispatched 45th-minute penalty from Mario Balotelli, Touré showed immense poise, balance and the predatory instincts of a world-class striker to convert his two half-chances.
When he analysed them with UEFA.com the Player Rater Top Player was content, but handed tactical credit to Mancini and praised Villarreal's stubborn hard work. "
The reason I got those goals was that the coach told me I could push further forward and go looking for chances," he said. "That's because it had been a pretty strange game. The first ten minutes were pretty hard going because Villarreal are a side which maintains possession cleverly.
"However once I scored the first, everything really went well – I must say we are all very content. It's vital we maintain this run of results because to win the Premier League and the Champions League will be very hard."
Some would shy away from talk of winning a momentous European and domestic double, particularly if their club is emerging from trophyless decades. However, Touré achieved the treble of UEFA Champions League, Liga and Copa del Rey with Barça and is able to identify when all the correct pieces are falling into place.
"We have made a quantum leap this season compared to last in terms of our winning mentality," he confirmed. "The arrival of important players like Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguëro is the key factor in that. We also have top-quality footballers like Edin Džeko and David Silva in impressive form right now. The season is progressing marvellously and I do believe that we are in shape to win another trophy."
Jonathan De Guzmán, who worked to stem the sky blue tide of Touré and company, was one of only a handful of fit first-team regulars available to Villarreal coach Juan Carlos Garrido thanks to a plague of injury and illness. The Canadian-born Dutch Under-21 international midfielder believes Villarreal lost to genuine contenders to win this competition.
"City are a very good team, they find it easy to score and they are very creative – especially in midfield," De Guzmán told UEFA.com. "Moreover they are top of the Premier League right now so, of course, they have a very good chance of winning this trophy. Although City are good up front and at the back we lost the game because of little errors at our own end of the pitch. They capitalised on that with their counterattacks. Otherwise
I think we did pretty well, especially in the first half, but the two goals killed the momentum for us."
The result ends Villarreal's chance of progress in the UEFA Champions League and the Yellow Submarine now require two victories, in Munich and then at home to SSC Napoli, even to be in contention for UEFA Europa League qualification. De Gúzman points out that they will need, and probably deserve, a reversal of fortune.
"Things have been difficult for us, especially for me because I've only just joined this team and since I came we haven't had much go for us," he said. "So hopefully sooner rather than later our luck will turn around."
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