Sergio Aguero became Manchester City’s all-time record goalscorer and fired Pep Guardiola’s side into the knockout stages of the Champions League as they claimed a thrilling 4-2 win at Napoli.
The Premier League leaders progress with two games to spare in Group F after making it four victories out of four at Stadio San Paolo.
As in their 2-1 victory in Manchester two weeks ago, Pep Guardiola’s men were made to work hard for the points and Napoli drew first blood on this occasion thanks to Lorenzo Insigne’s wonderfully crafted opener after 21 minutes.
Seemingly relieved by the Serie A table-toppers halting an assault that lasted for most of the first half hour, City centre-backs Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones converted set-piece routines either side of half-time to turn the game around.
Jorginho made it two apiece from the penalty spot in the 62nd minute but Leroy Sane, culpable for his foul on Raul Albiol, drove a counter-attack that allowed Aguero to score his 178th City goal and end Eric Brook’s 79-year stay at the top of the club’s scoring charts.
Napoli flagged from that point and, after substitute Bernardo Silva wasted a pair of good openings, Raheem Sterling gleefully added a fourth.
Maurizio Sarri can feel aggrieved to have taken nothing from two pulsating encounters with City and his Napoli now face a must-win clash with Shakhtar Donetsk next time out to preserve their interest in the competition.
As in the initial meeting in Manchester, events unfolded at a brisk pace from the opening whistle but it was City – smothered by the Napoli press – who found themselves on the back foot on this occasion.
The opening goal had been on the cards for some time when it arrived, with Mertens’ delightful flicked return pass finding a finish to match from Insigne.
City crafted their first clear opening after the half hour when Aguero’s clever lay-off to Kevin De Bruyne launched a break that ended with the Argentina striker’s low effort deflecting narrowly wide.
It was another, less-likely Argentinian, who brought the Premier League leaders level in the 34th minute
De Bruyne took a quick short corner to Ilkay Gundogan and the Germany midfielder flighted an excellent left-footed cross for Otamendi to rise and nod home.