Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola praised “extraordinary” Ilkay Gundogan as his side took a giant step towards the Champions League quarter-finals with a comfortable win at Basel.
City took command of the last-16 first-leg tie within half an hour in Switzerland as Gundogan, Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero all scored within a nine-minute period.
German Gundogan, who returned from a nine-month injury lay-off in September, added his side’s fourth – and his second – 10 minutes after the break.
“Ilkay Gundogan is an extraordinary player. Last season we missed him a lot with injury for six months and that’s why we are so satisfied, not just the quality but personality to play,” Guardiola told BT Sport.
Gundogan put City in front on 14 minutes, heading in Kevin de Bruyne’s corner at the near post.
Four minutes later Silva doubled the lead, cushioning Raheem Sterling’s cross on his chest before firing a volley at Basel keeper Tomas Vaclik, who could only tip the ball into his own net.
Aguero then scored his 29th of the season and his 198th for City in the 23rd minute, whipping a right-footed shot into the bottom corner from 20 yards with Vaclik rooted to the spot.
Gundogan curled City’s fourth into the top corner 10 minutes after the break and was denied a hat-trick by Vaclik, who saved the German’s shot from close range.
The return leg at the Etihad on 7 March should be routine for City, who lead the Premier League by 16 points and face Arsenal in the Carabao Cup final.