Manchester City ease past Copenhagen 3-1 in UCL round-of-16

Manchester City survived a brief scare to beat FC Copenhagen 3-1 in the first-leg of their Champions League round-of-16 match at the Parken Stadium on Tuesday, with Phil Foden scoring late to ensure a two-goal cushion ahead of the second-leg.

With the Danes still on their winter break, City dominated the opening exchanges and took the lead in the 10th minute when Kevin De Bruyne scored with a brilliant first-time finish across the keeper. 

- Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

City continued to press until an injury to Jack Grealish briefly derailed them, forcing Pep Guardiola to send on Jérémy Doku instead.

The home side shocked the visitors in the 34th minute thanks to a goal from Magnus Mattsson, who probably could not have imagined a better debut when he joined the club from Dutch side NEC Nijmegen on Feb. 1.

Kevin De Bruyne opened the scoring for Manchester City.
Photo by Zac Goodwin/PA Images via Getty Images

A poorly hit pass from City keeper Éderson fell to Mohamed Elyounoussi and his blocked shot fell into the path of Mattsson, who curled a beautiful strike inside the right-hand post to send the home fans' plastic cups of beer flying into the chilly night air in celebration.

Unfortunately it was not to last and their team fell behind again just before the break when De Bruyne's persistence in a block tackle saw the ball fall to Bernardo Silva, who finished deftly with his left foot.

The Copenhagen defence looked like they had managed to hold firm but Foden cut in from the left in second-half stoppage time to rifle home a third goal and make it 11 wins on the trot for the English champions.

"Really, really good, so proud. It was important. Today was perfect," City manager Pep Guardiola told TNT Sport.

"They were patient in the right moments. Really good. I'm really proud of the team. The third goal helped us a lot. Hopefully we can finish it off at home and go to the next game.

"It was important to not lose the tie here. The game was really well played from the first minute.

"We conceded a goal but sometimes that happens. In the second half they played with five in the back but in general we did well. We didn't concede transitions or make the crowd support the team. We had the perfect tempo so really pleased."

De Bruyne was once again influential for City having hit the ground running since he returned from injury. 

"We've played here a couple of times, the atmosphere is great and you know they're going to try and do everything. They had a great group stage so we have to respect them," De Bruyne told TNT Sport.

The Belgian may have been happy to give FC Copenhagen credit but he still believed that his side should have been more effective in front of goal.

"I think in the second half we created many chances and I think we could have scored more. Luckily in the end we scored the third one so it's a little bit of an advantage now," De Bruyne said.

Meanwhile Foden was quick to heap praise on his teammate

"Me and Kevin [de Bruyne] have built that connection now so we know where we're running. He's such an important player for us," Foden told TNT Sport.  

"When teams play in a low block you need runners in behind. Kevin knows the right time to make that movement and it makes my job easier. For me, there's no better player in the world at passing the ball. He's a pleasure to play with and so important.

"It's a special group. I enjoy being here every day. There's so much hunger. When you have that determination it goes a long way."

The two sides meet in the second leg at the Etihad Stadium on March 6.