1 Negredo is striking success
When you consider the respective impact of Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli on one hand and Sergio Agüero on the other, it is fair to say Manchester City's success with signing strikers since being taken over by Sheikh Mansour has been mixed. Álvaro Negredo, however, appears well on his way to being listed as a wise buy. The 28-year-old scored a hat-trick against CSKA Moscow, his first for City since arriving from Sevilla for £20m in July, and generally impressed with a hard-working, powerful display. Alongside his goals, there was also a moment of breathtaking quality when the striker flicked the ball over his shoulder and thrashed a volley that went just over. He was named man of the match and, alongside the sublime Agüero, could prove a key threat for City at home and abroad.
2 City's defence is still shaky
Joe Hart spent a third straight match huddled among the substitutes but if anyone thought his removal from the fray would lead to City's defence looking more assured they were wrong. Here again was cause for concern, with Pablo Zabaleta and Matija Nastasic guilty of early errors while Costel Pantilimon, Hart's replacement, caused panic when he failed to catch a free-kick soon after City went 2-0 up. Just before half-time Seydou Doumbia ran straight through the middle of City's defence to score and offer further proof of the communication difficulties that exist in an unsettled rearguard. Gaël Clichy then needlessly gave away a penalty in the second half and, while they did not ultimately suffer, City could well do so in the knockout stages. Vincent Kompany's return cannot come soon enough.
3 Honda has drive
Ahead of Milan's Champions League date with Barcelona at the Camp Nou on Wednesday evening, their manager, Massimo Allegri, may well have tuned into events at the Etihad Stadium and, in particular, to watch Keisuke Honda, whom Milan have agreed to sign on a free transfer from CSKA in January. In what was a poor display by the Russian club, Honda posed a threat with his mix of aggression, guile, and vision. The Japan international turned Zabaleta to create a chance for Doumbia after 11 minutes and played a part in the striker's goal just before half-time. Honda's impact after the break was less eye-catching – he was substituted on 78 minutes – with Zoran Tosic shining brighter instead, but he is clearly a talented player and Milan, sitting 11th in Serie A, will welcome his arrival in the new year.
4 City fans did Touré proud
The backdrop to this match was an ugly one, with a section of CSKA supporters guilty of racially abusing Yaya Touré when these sides met in Russia two weeks ago. There was a concern that it could happen again but apart from setting off a flare in the second half, the 800 or so travelling fans appeared to have behaved themselves. The home fans, meanwhile, were relatively subdued but caught the ear with an early song in support of Touré before directing a few chants in the direction of those in the away section which made clear their disgust at how their midfielder was treated in Moscow. The language was coarse but it was also heart-warming stuff and, as he put in another excellent display, Touré may well have appreciated the backing from the City faithful.
5 So far so good for Pellegrini
What a difference a year makes. Exactly 12 months ago, City drew 2-2 with Ajax at home, a result that saw them rooted to the bottom of their Champions League group and enraged the then manager, Roberto Mancini, to such a degree that he felt inclined to scream into a television camera straight after the final whistle. This time there was a victory, no tantrums and a first progression into the knockout stages for City, and with Agüero in stunning form, the likes of David Silva, Touré, Samir Nasri and Negredo playing well and Kompany to eventually return in defence, City could be ready to make a notable impact in Europe's premier competition. If so, then the decision by City's owners to replace Mancini with Manuel Pellegrini during the summer will have proved a wise one.