The Warmdown: Bernardo Silva shines as Manchester City take charge of Champions League Round of 16 tie
LISBON, PORTUGAL - FEBRUARY 15: Bernardo Silva of Manchester City applauds the Manchester City fans during the UEFA Champions League Round Of Sixteen Leg One match between Sporting CP and Manchester City at Estadio Jose Alvalade on February 15, 2022 in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Manchester City all but ensured themselves a place in the Champions League quarter-final with a 5-0 rout of Sporting Lisbon in Portugal on Tuesday evening.

Fresh from seeing off Norwich City at the weekend, Pep Guardiola saw his side take an early lead courtesy of Riyad Mahrez following a VAR check, with Bernardo Silva soon making it two in brilliant fashion.

Phil Foden made it two goals in two games as he got in on the act following the half-hour mark before Raheem Sterling teed up Bernardo Silva to score his second against Ruben Amorim's men.

After grabbing a perfect hat-trick on Saturday, Sterling put the icing on the cake for the Premier League champions, as he curled one in from distance to give his side a five-goal cushion ahead of the second-leg in Manchester in three weeks' time.

Here are the key takeaways from a one-sided Champions League knock-out tie in Lisbon.

On a European night that would set the tone for his side in their pursuit of Champions League glory, Riyad Mahrez delivered once again as he opened the scoring for the visitors and bagged his sixth goal in this season's competition.

The Algeria international, who has registered 17 goals and seven assists in 29 appearances across all competitions since August, has established his status as one of the first names on Pep Guardiola's team sheet owing to his hot streak in front of goal.

Embed from Getty Images

While Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling have all endured sticky patches of form since the start of the campaign, Mahrez has been City's most reliable frontman and has the numbers to show for it.

Guardiola's comments after the weekend win at Norwich suggesting that Mahrez can improve further highlight how high the ceiling is for the 30-year-old, who starred for the Sky Blues on their run to the Champions League final last term.

As City remain in the hunt for glory on three fronts, Guardiola will be key to keep Mahrez fresh for crunch Premier League and Champions League ties in the coming months, because for now, he simply cannot stop scoring.

A big-match player. That's what Bernardo Silva has turned into this season. From being a orchestrator of play in midfield alongside Rodri and Ilkay Gundogan last season, the Portuguese has grown leaps and bounds over the past 12 months.

After being rested against Norwich City ahead of the Champions League tie, the 27-year-old thumped the ball into the back of the net on the half-volley to claim his first and hence provided the latest evidence of his ridiculous technique.

 Embed from Getty Images

Despite being linked with a move away from the Etihad Stadium last summer, the playmaker has been arguably Manchester City's best player of the campaign so far.

Though City do possess incredible strength in-depth, Silva has turned into a near indispensable part of Guardiola's side ahead of their league and Champions League run-in.

For a midfielder who often drops deep to collect the ball and helps link up play, 13 direct goal contributions this season highlight how effective Silva has been in and around the box, as he was for his second strike against Sporting in Portugal.

  • Guardiola And City Mean Business

There was something about this City side on Tuesday evening that signalled that they mean business, as they kept searching for more and more in the first-half despite being in front.

City were at their scary best, with each player fully aware of their respective jobs and executing those to devastating effect to establish a five-goal advantage heading into the second-leg in Manchester.

Having the luxury to take a few players off around the hour-mark, Guardiola would have been pleased with his side's showing in the first-half, as they became the first team in Champions League knock-out history to lead an away game by four goals at half-time.

Embed from Getty Images

While it is still early doors in the tournament, City's relentless desire to keep winning is a scary proposition for the rest, and there is little to suggest Guardiola's men will be dropping off anytime soon.

It raises the question, and despite their shortcomings in Europe under Guardiola, it is certainly a warranted one: Can anyone stop Manchester City this season?