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Man City win group as Sane double sinks Hoffenheim

Man City win group as Sane double sinks Hoffenheim
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(Reuters) – Manchester City battled back to winning ways, coming from a goal down to overwhelm Hoffenheim 2-1 in the Champions League with a brilliant Leroy Sane double that ensured they progressed to the last-16 as winners of Group F on Wednesday.

The already-qualified English champions, who had suffered their first league defeat in 22 matches at Chelsea on Saturday, needed a point to guarantee top spot but were quickly shocked again when going behind to an Andrej Kramaric penalty.

Yet in a hugely entertaining and open encounter, German starlet Sane inspired the comeback against the Bundesliga side with a magnificent free kick moments before the break and another neatly-taken left foot finish just after the hour.

The win, which should have been far more decisive such was City’s dominance with 25 goal attempts, saw them top the table on 13 points, ahead of second-placed Olympique Lyonnais, who qualified on eight after they had drawn 1-1 at Shakhtar Donetsk.

The Ukrainian side earned the Europa League spot in third place with Hoffenheim last on four points.

Hoffenheim made a bright, enterprising start, with Kramaric putting them ahead from the penalty spot in the 16th minute after Aymeric Laporte had bundled over Benjamin Hubner in the box.

Yet after the Croat had continued his remarkable run of scoring for both club and country for a ninth match in a row, City poured on the pressure as both Gabriel Jesus and Nicolas Otamendi, with headers against the woodwork, cursed their luck.

With John Stones also thwarted by Oliver Baumann’s fine save, City looked to be getting frustrated until, in first-half stoppage time, Sane produced a magnificent curling left-footed free kick to equalise.

The one-way traffic continued after the break as Jesus and Otamendi both spurned chances and Sane somehow conspired to make a mess of the finish after Raheem Sterling had sprinted clear all the way down the field from just outside his own box.

Yet the 22-year-old, in searing form, quickly made up for his blunder with a cool 61st minute finish after again being put in by Sterling.

(Reporting by Ian Chadband; Editing by Toby Davis)

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