Rio Ferdinand was impressed with the way Manchester City came back from a goal down to beat Red Star Belgrade, namechecking one man in particular.
The Citizens went into the contest as red-hot favourites to take all three points. But they could not find the net during the opening 45 minutes despite having 22 shots. And the Etihad faithful were stunned into silence as the visitors took the lead through Osman Bukari just before half-time.
However, it took the reigning European champions less than 90 seconds to get back on level terms after the interval.
Julian Alvarez netted the equaliser before adding a second on the hour mark to nudge City ahead.
Rodri then made sure of the points with the third on 73 minutes to give them a 3-1 success.
It was not a classic City performance but they certainly deserved the victory, dominating possession against their Serbian opponents.
And Ferdinand was impressed with the way they responded to adversity on the competition’s opening night.
“There was a bump in the road today. They went 1-0 down,” the pundit said on TNT Sports.
“But the resilience and experience in this squad, they never panic. They coasted in the end.”
In a team full of superstars it is always tough to pick the best players on the night.
But the former Manchester United and England defender felt “Phil Foden and Alvarez were especially outstanding today.”
Ferdinand picks out Man City star man
It would have been easy for Manchester City to rest on their laurels after last season’s historic treble.
However, with Pep Guardiola at the helm, that was never going to happen.
They have strolled to the top of the Premier Legue, with five straight wins.
And Tuesday’s result was the perfect way to begin the defence of their Champions League crown.
Games against Young Boys and RB Leipzig will follow in a group that the north-west giants should dominate.
Rodri has been a big part of City’s success in recent seasons. And he has enjoyed a superb start to 2023-2024.
The Spain international was, once again, at the top of his form against Red Star. And Ferdinand believes he is currently a cut above the rest on the pitch.
“Rodri again, looks like a secondary school player playing against primary school kids at times,” he added.
Rodri has never been a prolific goalscorer but already has three to his name this term.
And, after the match, he confessed that contributing more in the final third is now an important part of his game.
“I think it’s something that becomes natural for a player,” he told TNT Sports.
“I feel the way they defend and they give time to the midfielders to shoot it’s something I’m trying to work and to grow even though it’s not my biggest quality.
“Not only the goals, assists, in that part of the game.”
City are next in action when they host Nottingham Forest in the Premier League on Saturday.