Considering FC Schalke’s disappointing domestic performances this season, Manchester City seemed to make unnecessarily hard work of the opening leg in Gelsenkirchen.
Tuesday’s reverse fixture was a very different story.
Pep Guardiola’s troops breached Schalke’s hapless defense on seven occasions without reply at the Etihad Stadium, booking a spot in the Champions League quarterfinals with an overwhelming 10-2 aggregate win.
Manchester City will discover who their last-eight opponents are in Friday’s draw.
Domenico Tedesco handed forward Breel Embolo his first start since November at the Etihad Stadium but, unsurprisingly, Schalke’s priority was to thwart City’s attacks. Schalke’s rearguard flattened into a back-five when City pushed, and the likes of Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva sprinted back to support makeshift center-half Danilo when the visitors made rare ventures forward.
But it was inevitable that Ilkay Gundogan, a Gelsenkirchen native and former Borussia Dortmund player, and Schalke product Leroy Sane would play significant roles.
Two lifted balls from Gundogan led to the first two goals. First, City were awarded a penalty when Bernardo Silva was obstructed and, after scoring from the spot, Aguero notched his second following an intelligent backheel from Sterling.
Sane made it 3-0 before the interval when he slotted between Ralf Fahrmann’s legs but was denied a second by VAR eight minutes into the second period.
Sterling benefitted from a Sane delivery a couple of minutes later, just staying onside as he pocketed a first-time finish with his instep. When Bernardo Silva netted City’s fifth – and eighth over the two-legged skirmish – it was clear Schalke’s backline had clocked out early or had just reverted to type given the club’s Bundesliga toils.
Teenager Phil Foden skipped past ‘keeper Fahrmann and slotted home 14 minutes into his cameo. Another substitute, Gabriel Jesus, made it 7-0 six minutes from normal time when he picked out the near post from the edge of the 18-yard box.
Schalke, positioned 14th in Germany’s top flight, will now focus solely on avoiding relegation into the 2. Bundesliga. Manchester City, meanwhile, are chasing three more trophies after already hoisting the League Cup in February.