Aguero, Silva and Toure get Man City rolling in Europe
Stars return after FA Cup break as Pellegrini's men advance on the Champions League quarter-finals
Dynamo Kiev 1 Manchester City 3
Manchester City succeeded where Arsenal and Chelsea failed, by winning the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie. Not only did the Sky Blues win, they did it away, ensuring that - barring the mother of all mishaps in Manchester next month - they'll be in the quarter-final of Europe's showpiece tournament for the first time.
It was a confident display from a City side that showed ten changes from the team that was thrashed 5-1 by Chelsea in Sunday's FA Cup fifth round tie, and one that vindicated the decision of manager Manuel Pellegrini to field a weakened XI on that occasion.
"For managers, it's always important to take the right decisions," said Pellegrini, when asked to reflect on his recent team selections. "We must respect all competitions but in this situation, it was a right decision to give a rest to the players at the weekend. It really influenced the way we played today."
The way City played was with a tempo and desire that overwhelmed their hosts as the English side dominated possession. With David Silva playing in a more central position behind frontman Sergio Aguero, City had Dynamo Kiev on the back foot from the start, and Aguero gave them the lead on 15 minutes.
It was the Ukrainian side's first competitive game in nearly three months because of the country's winter break and their rustiness was further exploited by City five minutes before the break when Silva finished off a well-worked move.
Dynamo improved after half-time as began to find their rhythm. Vitaliy Buyalsky gave home fans hope of a stirring comeback when his deflected shot beat Joe Hart just before the hour. But the City keeper pulled off a sharp save to deny Buyalsky a second goal, and then on the stroke of full-time Yaya Toure curled in a sweet strike to give City an advantage they should be able to defend when the two sides meet again at the Etihad on 15 March.
"The performance was good, with a lot of high pressing," said City captain Vincent Kompany. "We looked like a team that was hungry for success... [and] we are going into the second leg with a fairly good chance to go through, which has not been the case before."
Manuel Pellegrini was more cautious in his post-match assessment, telling reporters: "It is a very important result but nothing is finished. The worst thing for us is to think we've already done everything after a 3-1 away win. It's important to understand that we face a big team in Dynamo Kiev. Now we have more chance of reaching the next round but we need to play well in the second leg."