Pep Guardiola never felt the game was over in Manchester City’s breathless 6-3 win over RB Leipzig in the Champions League.
Beaten finalists last season, City started this Champions League campaign with a nine-goal thriller. They took a two-goal lead through a Nathan Ake header and a Nordi Mukiele own goal, before Christopher Nkunku pulled one back for the visitors. Riyad Mahrez restored City’s two-goal cushion with a penalty before the break.
Nkunku struck again though with the first goal of the second half, before Jack Grealish marked his European bow with a curling goal to make it 4-2 to City.
There was then a hat-trick goal for Nkunku, but rather than it proving the inspiration for a Leipzig comeback, City pulled away. Joao Cancelo and Gabriel Jesus scored either side of former City man Angelino being sent off for a second yellow card for Leipzig.
In the end, then, it was 6-3 to City, who really had to work for their win despite scoring so many.
Guardiola told BT Sport: “Leipzig never give up. They have a special way to attack. They play all or nothing.
“You never have the feeling it’s over. We scored a few minutes after they scored [a few times] and it helped us a lot.
“They have a young team, so aggressive, so strong. A fantastic team. Leipzig give a good message to football.
“The quality of the players was better today and that’s why we won.
“We scored 16 goals in the last three games here. I’d like more people to come on Saturday. We will be tired. Southampton are so dangerous. I invite all our people to come 3pm to watch our game.”
Grealish delighted at European debut
It was a particularly special occasion for club-record signing Grealish, who was making his first ever Champions League appearance.
He marked it with his well-taken goal and also the assist for Ake’s opener, which will have further boosted his confidence after making the difficult decision to step up from boyhood club Aston Villa over the summer.
Grealish thoroughly enjoyed it, telling BT Sport: “I loved it. I’ve been waiting a while. The past few weeks, I couldn’t wait for this game. It’s a great night.
“It was one of those games. It had absolutely everything. In the end we’re delighted to get the win against a good team full of energy and young players.
“I’m delighted to come away with the three points – and the goal and assist.
“The ball came to me and when I’m in that position, running into the area I’d back myself one on one against anyone to have a go and it paid off. I had a few in the first half that were blocked.
“I went to check the result from the other game [Club Bruges 1-1 PSG] and it shows anything can happen in the Champions League. It’s why it’s such a wonderful competition.
“With the music and everything [before the game] it was so nice.”