LISBON (AP) — Manchester City was so good in the Champions League on Tuesday that even the fans of its opponents couldn’t help but applaud.
When Phil Foden side-footed home the third of City’s four first-half goals in a 5-0 win over Sporting in the last 16, it wasn’t just the vocal away fans showing their appreciation inside the Estádio José Alvalade.
Some of the home supporters were also seen clapping in recognition of one of the most dominant performances ever seen at this stage of Europe’s top club competition.
Helping inflict the humiliation were four players who once played for Sporting’s fierce Lisbon rival, Benfica. One of them was Bernardo Silva, who scored two of the goals — his first an outrageous half-volley that flew in off the underside of the crossbar.
Riyad Mahrez began the demolition in the seventh minute with a close-range volley that was only given after a long video review.
Silva then scored in the 17th and 44th minutes — either side of Foden’s well-worked team goal in the 32nd — as City went into half time leading 4-0.
Raheem Sterling curled in a sublime fifth in the 58th and Pep Guardiola’s team can start planning for the quarterfinals, even with the second leg still to come in three weeks.
It was City’s ninth straight appearance in the knockout stage of the competition — the club still hasn’t claimed the title despite heavy spending by its Abu Dhabi ownership — while Sporting was playing at this stage for the first time since the 2008-09 season.
On that occasion, the Portuguese team was embarrassed 12-1 on aggregate by Bayern Munich after losing 5-0 at home and 7-1 away.
The thrashing by City must have felt very similar.