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Man City advances to the quarterfinals of the Champions League after 3-1 win over Copenhagen

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester City continued its pursuit of back-to-back Champions League titles by advancing to the quarterfinals of European club soccer’s elite competition with a 3-1 win over Copenhagen on Wednesday.

Goals from Manuel Akanji, Julian Alvarez and Erling Haaland at Etihad Stadium saw City complete a 6-2 aggregate win.

It is the seventh straight season Pep Guardiola’s team has advanced to the quarterfinals and this latest victory extended an unbeaten home run in the Champions League that stretches back 30 games to 2018.

“(When) I arrived we didn’t believe we could do it. It’s a question of time, a process,” Guardiola said. “They (the hierarchy) gave me time, gave us time. We are a team that believes we can do it. Listen, we’re competing with Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. We don’t know who we are going to face. It’s a question of wait and see. The important thing is seven years in a row we are here.”

Potential clashes with some of the giants of European soccer lie in wait with Madrid, Bayern and Paris Saint-Germain also into the next stage.

But few teams would relish the prospect of meeting the defending champions, who remain in contention to become only the second team after Madrid to retain the trophy in its modern guise.

Even Guardiola’s Lionel Messi-inspired Barcelona team could not achieve that feat. Should City lift the trophy again, Guardiola would equal Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti’s record haul of four Champions League titles.

There is still a long way to go this season, but City’s form is ominous after extending its unbeaten run in all competitions to 20 games.

“Now we are a process where we can lose, definitely, but we can compete everywhere because we come from the final (2021), semifinal (2022), final (2023) and now the quarterfinals again,” Guardiola said. “Of course we respect incredibly the opponents, but we have the feeling the opponents see Man City and say ‘OK it will be a big battle too.’”

City’s seven straight quarterfinals equals feats by Bayern and Manchester United.

Barcelona advanced to the last eight a record 13 times in succession between 2008 and 2020, while Madrid’s best run was eight between 2011 and 2018.

A repeat of last season’s treble is also still on for City, with the defending champions a point behind first-placed Liverpool in the Premier League and into the quarterfinals of the FA Cup.

City faces Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday and it was perhaps with that in mind that Guardiola left star players Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden, Bernardo Silva, John Stones and Kyle Walker out of his starting lineup against Copenhagen.

His confidence was well-placed after a 3-1 first leg win in Denmark. The tie effectively was put beyond doubt within five minutes when Akanji was free to volley past goalkeeper Kamil Grabara from Alvarez’s corner.

The lead was doubled four minutes later when Grabara fumbled Alvarez’s long shot and the ball slipped through his grasp. Rodri had hit the bar with a header moments before.

Copenhagen, though, scored the best goal of the game in the 29th. Mohamed Elyounoussi swept the ball past Ederson after running to the edge of the box and exchanging passes with Orri Oskarsson, who back-heeled into his path.

City’s advantage was restored in the third minute of first-half stoppage time as Haaland held off the challenge of Elias Jelert in the box and fired low into the net.

It was all too easy and he celebrated his 29th goal in all competitions this season and sixth in the Champions League with a flying kick.

Haaland moved level with Bayern’s Harry Kane and PSG’s Kylian Mbappe as the joint leading scorer in this season’s competition.

City could have added a fourth in stoppage time at the end of the match, but Rico Lewis’ deflected effort came back off the bar.


James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson


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