Bernardo Silva’s elegant gesture crowns an evening that thrilled Man City bosses – Simon Bajkowski

It’s unclear how popular the British game show is Diana It was around Las Ramblas, but for Manchester City executives on Wednesday night, the arrival of Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé had the potential to be as awkward as Jim Bowen presenting a speedboat.

Pep Guardiola had tried to sign Mbappé more than once since he became City manager, and he quickly realized the potential of the world-class player before he exploded on the world football stage. And there were genuine hopes that Messi, one of the biggest brands in the sport, as well as one of its most iconic players, could leave Barcelona last summer, with the Blues at the forefront of the queue before he finally decided to stay.

If the prospect of facing Mbappé, Messi and Neymar on the pitch is always daunting, the crowds they draw are the envy of many business and social media departments throughout the game and City is no exception.

The enthusiasm for the game was evident for days before. It was a full house at the Etihad, even though the ticket prices were exorbitant so it was ultimately a pointless result given both teams qualified for the knockout round anyway.

People wanted to see the superstars they normally don’t see every week and it’s probably safe to say that the young fan who ran into the field full time was not looking for a City jersey, given the lack of field from the Invasions. for the Everton game or any other this season. However, he left with Bernardo Silva’s, and the best player on the court took pity on the fan after security agents intercepted him and told him to leave.

That summed up a night that was better than Ferran Soriano and others could have dreamed of: even if people came for Messi, they were raving about City.

Despite seeing the Argentine have a hand in the opening goal, as Ilkay Gundogan put it after the match, the hosts dominated from start to finish. In one of their highest-profile games for a while, Guardiola’s team produced some of their best football to excite and entertain the 55,000 on the field, as well as the millions more who watched it at home.

It was a tremendous night for the team, which showed their quality, as well as their endurance, as they responded emphatically to lag behind against the progress of the game when a draw or loss would still have allowed them.

And that, in turn, will have done wonders for the club. They may not have Messi to lure bettors, but they showed what display they can put on at the Etihad, with a pre-match light show and professional DJs overshadowed by the fireworks that followed the first whistle.

A night that could have been tinged with regret turned into a celebration of all that was good about City.

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