Jack Grealish was the subject of high praise after Manchester City’s rampant 4-0 win over Real Madrid at the Etihad on Wednesday, as the winger broke the record for the most chances created by an Englishman in a Champions League campaign.
BT Sport pundits Rio Ferdinand, Joleon Lescott and Michael Owen lauded the City winger’s sensational performance after Pep Guardiola’s side booked their place in next month’s Champions League final against Inter in emphatic fashion.
Bernardo Silva capped off a dominant first-half performance from the home side with two well-taken goals before the break, putting the reigning Premier League winners in the ascendancy with a 3-1 aggregate lead.
Manuel Akanji and substitute Julian Alvarez ensured City’s passage to the final with two additional goals late on, marking a monumental night at the Etihad as the serial domestic champions moved one step closer to a historic treble.
During City’s pulsating performance on Wednesday, Grealish created his 35th chance in the Champions League this campaign, the most on record in a single season since the data was first compiled in 2003-04.
Manchester City thrashed reigning champions Real Madrid 4-0 (5-1 on aggregate) on Wednesday night to progress the the Champions League final against Inter Milan next month
Jack Grealish broke the record for the highest number of chances created by an Englishman (35) in a single Champions League season following Manchester City’s rampant performance
The former Aston Villa star had his critics during his debut season at the Etihad last term following his £100million move to City but has since emerged an integral part of Guardiola charge for the treble.
Following City’s rampant display, Manchester United legend Ferdinand praising City’s recruitment team and Guardiola for identifying Grealish as a perfect fit back in 2021.
‘It was meticulous recruitment,’ Ferdinand insisted. ‘He (Guardiola) saw something and went: “This is going to be different to what I’ve had before”.
‘Raheem Sterling was the player playing before him. He was very different player, but he’s seen something in Jack and thought it’d give another dimension to this team.
‘He’s all about retaining the ball, holding the ball and bringing players through him. And that releases other players into spaces. (Ilkay) Gundogan for instance flies into those pockets where players are dragged out towards Jack.
‘Whether it’s Gundogan or Rodri sometimes, or Kevin De Bruyne, it’s not just what he does, it’s how he triggers other people.
Rio Ferdinand praised the winger and Manchester City’s recruitment team in signing Grealish
Grealish’s performance was lauded by pundits Ferdinand, Joleon Lescott and Michael Owen
‘And you look at the depth of this squad by the way. (Riyad) Mahrez, can’t get in this team. Phil Foden, (Julian) Alvarez. He’s a World Cup winner, comes on and scores. Their depth is just wow.’
Lescott, who joined Ferdinand pitchside after the match, added: ‘They’re remarkable. Jack Grealish has transferrable skills, they recognised what he was doing at Aston Villa and went “If we can get him into those positions at Manchester City, he’ll be playing with better players and will have more options”. Credit to all parties, all round.’
After celebrating the scintillating result with his team-mates, Grealish joined the BT Sport team to reflect upon reaching next month’s final in Istanbul.
‘(It was) unbelievable,’ Grealish urged. ‘We spoke last week after the game and I was just buzzing then you know, just to be involved and stuff like that. Not involved, that makes me sound like a youth team player!
‘But just to be in that moment, it was so nice and a week later I’m standing here again and it’s 4-0. I don’t think a lot of teams would do that to Real Madrid but I swear, when we’re all together and playing, especially here, we just feel unstoppable, honestly. I don’t know what it is.
‘I saw a stat of our Champions League games the other day and I couldn’t believe it. The amount we’ve won at home compared to away, I think we’ve drawn like five games in the Champions League away this season, and then every game at home we’ve won.
His movement frequently created space for City’s midfielders, such as Ilkay Gundogan (left)
Full-back Kyle Walker kept Real Madrid danger man Vinicius Jr quiet throughout the second leg
‘I don’t know what it is about here (the Etihad), whether it’s the fans, but playing on our home pitch we feel unstoppable and feel like no-one can beat us. You’ve seen what we’ve done to Bayern Munich, even Leipzig and here tonight. It’s unbelievable.’
Grealish went on to joke that Kyle Walker, who joined the in-form winger to dissect the match, has been critical of his play all season.
Heaping praise on Grealish in response, Walker replied: ‘I play against him directly in training and he’s a nightmare. At this point in the season, he can’t really do much better because he’s doing what he needs to for the team.
‘When Raz (Sterling) first came here he was more about the tricks and then goals, goals, goals. So if he (Grealish) adds that to his game and chips in with a few more goals, I say 10 a season, with the contribution that he does in other areas of the pitch, that’ll set him above the rest.’
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