MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Raheem Sterling ended his scoring drought as Manchester City netted three second-half goals Wednesday to move closer to the Champions League knockout rounds with a 4-1 win over Club Brugge.
Phil Foden gave Pep Guardiola’s side an early lead in the Group A game at the Etihad Stadium but a bizarre own goal from John Stones pulled the visitors level in the 17th minute.
City then pulled away after the break through goals from Riyad Mahrez, Sterling and Gabriel Jesus to go top of the group, one point ahead of Paris Saint-Germain.
The result meant City, which reached the final last year, only needs a point from the last two group games to return to the knockout stages.
PSG was held to a 2-2 draw by RB Leipzig in the other group game.
Kevin De Bruyne was unexpectedly named among the substitutes in one of three changes from the weekend's Premier League loss to Crystal Palace — perhaps with next weekend’s derby at Manchester United in mind — but City started on the front foot.
The hosts controlled most of the possession and Foden and Bernardo Silva both had early chances.
City then took the lead after Joao Cancelo hit the post with a neat effort and Foden was also denied. City managed to keep the ball alive and eventually broke through when Cancelo was played through by Mahrez and his cross was tapped in by Foden.
But Brugge replied quickly as Hans Vanaken forced a fine save from Ederson from the edge of the area. The ball was quickly crossed back in and Silva’s hasty clearance caught Stones in the face and rebounded into his own goal.
City remained the stronger side, however, and after Ilkay Gundogan went close in the latter stages of the first half, they upped the tempo in the second period.
Cancelo fired narrowly over the bar and Stones headed at former Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.
De Ketelaere threatened again for Brugge but City made their next chance count as Mahrez headed home from a Cancelo cross in the 54th minute.
Gundogan then controlled and shot just over before providing the cross for Sterling to tap in City’s third in the 72nd minute.
The England forward did not celebrate his first goal City goal since August, perhaps out of relief after a difficult spell in and out of the side, but was congratulated by all of his outfield teammates.
Jesus then completed the scoring with the last kick of the game.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
The Associated Press