Manchester City’s abundance of world-class talent proved too much for Atalanta on Tuesday night despite an admirable effort from the Bergamaschi, who even took a first-half lead at the Etihad Stadium before falling 5-1.
Atalanta looked to get at Manchester City and to Gian Piero Gasperini’s credit, he had his side playing out excellently from the back and they had their chances with Josip Ilicic and Timothy Castagne coming close.
Then Ilicic won a penalty as he was fouled by Fernandinho upon his entry to the box. Having missed in the loss against Shakhtar Donetsk, the Slovenian passed the responsibility to Ruslan Malinovskyi who fired to Ederson’s right as he went left.
But the lead lasted just six minutes. The dangerous Raheem Sterling clipped a perfect ball between Atalanta’s backline and Pierluigi Gollini for Sergio Aguero who expertly knocked the ball down through the goalkeepers legs.
City then had their own penalty. Andrea Masiello was sloppy in fouling Sterling. Aguero stepped up and Gollini went the right way but the strike was too-accurate for the Italian to reach.
A lethal counterattack allowed Sterling to get the goal he deserved. Riyad Mahrez set Kevin De Bruyne free and the Belgian perfectly checked back to open space, teeing up Phil Foden to selflessly offload for Sterling to fire in from close range.
Sterling’s stellar night continued as he bagged his second and City’s fourth. Starting the move with a clever hold up, he was then released by Bernardo Silva and kept his head to finish.
An 11-minute hat-trick was complete by Sterling shortly after. He arrived on the end of a Mahrez cross to prod past Gollini.
The Premier League champions ended the game with ten men as Foden saw red for two yellows in six minutes, sillily pulling back Marten de Roon late on.