Manchester City enjoy seven-goal stroll into last eight against limp Schalke

For Manchester City it was an evening of spectacular superiority. They have had a lot of those occasions at the Etihad and perhaps the scariest part, for all the other sides in Friday’s quarter-final draw, is that there were long spells when it did not even feel like Pep Guardiola’s team were playing at their maximum point of expression.

They did not have to reach their highest peaks when the imbalance of talent was so lopsided, when Leroy Sané can play this beautifully and there were players on the bench, namely Phil Foden and Gabriel Jesus, who could enter the play so seamlessly. They scored the sixth and seventh goals of a match in which City equalled the Champions League record victory in the competition’s knockout stages.

Sergio Agüero scored the first two, struck a post with another effort and if anything, might reflect he passed up a good opportunity to register his fourth hat-trick of the season. Sané added the third goal, saw another disallowed, and also set up those for Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva and Foden.

There were times when City seemed to find VAR more of a problem than anything their opponents could muster. Four times the game was paused and even the referee looked apologetic at times, embarrassed perhaps, about the slightly awkward occasions when the crowd were not sure whether they could celebrate a goal properly.

City 7-0 Schalke (CL 2018-19, last 16 second leg)

The thrashing of Schalke is Manchester City's biggest ever European win, as they rallied in spectacular fashion from 2-1 down after 85 minutes of the first leg to win 10-2 on aggregate – the biggest margin of victory by an English team in the Champions League era

City 6-0 Shakhtar (CL 2018-19, group stage)

The previous record was set just four months ago when the Ukrainian champions were thumped in this season's group stages, with Gabriel Jesus scoring a hat-trick including two penalties

Steaua 0-5 City (CL 2016-17 play-off, first-leg)

Sergio Agüero scored a hat-trick in the club's biggest European away win, with a group stage place ultimately secured 6-0 on aggregate

City 5-0 TNS (Uefa Cup 2003-04 qualifying, first leg)

The club's first European game in 24 years was also the first competitive game at the Etihad Stadium. The hosts brushed their Welsh opponents aside with Trevor Sinclair and Nicolas Anelka among the scorers

City 5-0 Lierse (Cup Winners' Cup 1969-70 2nd round, 2nd leg)

Joe Mercer's men thumped the now-defunct Belgian side 8-0 on aggregate on their way to their only European trophy. City also beat Schalke 5-1 in the Cup Winners' Cup semi-final first leg

Niall McVeigh

Not that it mattered too greatly when the thought briefly occurred that Schalke, last season’s Bundesliga runners-up but currently four points above the relegation zone, were straying dangerously close to the 9-0 scoreline Burton Albion suffered in the Carabao Cup semi-finals. It was the second time City have won 7-0 at home since January, the other occasion being against Rotherham in the FA Cup, and they waltzed into the quarter-finals with so much room to spare it seemed almost like a trick of the mind that there was a point in the first leg when they were losing 2-1, down to 10 men and Guardiola was looking anxious, to say the least.

This was a much more stress-free occasion, featuring a three-goal blitz in seven minutes towards the end of the first half and, as always with City, no sign they were willing to ease up once it became clear a rout was on the cards.

Yes, Schalke were obliging opponents but it was still quite something to score seven times, 10 on aggregate, and a reflection of City’s ambitions this season.

For Schalke, it was a chastening experience and their already minimal hopes of a comeback, 3-2 down from the first leg, were obliterated when, first, Agüero demonstrated he had been practising the Panenka routine from the penalty spot and then, three minutes later, squeezed in his second goal after a clever backheel from Sterling.

The penalty had been awarded for Jeffrey Bruma’s challenge on Bernardo Silva and the VAR analysis seemed to take an age before the decision was relayed back to the referee that Schalke’s full-back had prevented his opponent from latching on to Ilkay Gündogan’s through ball. When VAR is introduced to the Premier League next season it can only be hoped it is a speedier process, because the length of delay here did little but irritate the crowd and affect the game’s momentum.

The first wait felt unsatisfactory but it was an even more numbing delay before Agüero doubled the lead and on that occasion the most infuriating part was that it seemed a relatively straightforward decision to see Sterling was onside in the buildup. Modern football, indeed.

Nor was that the last time the referee was making that now-familiar rectangular sign. Sané had a goal disallowed for a marginal offside decision early in the second half and at least the officials were a little quicker with their verdict when Sterling scored his goal shortly afterwards. Again, it was an issue of whether the player was offside as he ran on to Sané’s cross and thumped in a splendid first-time shot. The video replays showed Sterling had timed his run perfectly and the fourth VAR decision in 21 minutes went in City’s favour.

It was a strange subplot but for City only a minor irritation in the overall story. Sané, in particular, looked keen to impress against his former team, thumping a low shot past the Schalke goalkeeper, Ralf Fährmann, for his goal and never showing any mercy to his former teammates.

Sané’s cutback gave Bernardo Silva the chance to drive in the fifth goal and the German was prominently involved again when Foden ran through to make it six. Jesus added the final flourish with a right-foot finish and City, on this evidence, can look forward to the draw with plenty of optimism.