(Reuters) - Alvaro Negredo scored a hat-trick and Sergio Aguero added two goals to fire Manchester City into the Champions League knockout stage for the first time with a commanding 5-2 home win over CSKA Moscow on Tuesday.
The victory brought relief for Manuel Pellegrini’s side after two humiliating seasons when they failed to progress from the group stage under former coach Roberto Mancini.
“It’s a first step but it’s an important step as we haven’t been able to do it in the last two years,” Pellegrini told Sky Sports.
Aguero, lively from kickoff at the Etihad Stadium, took less than three minutes to put City in front with a penalty after Zoran Tosic brought David Silva down in the area.
He rocketed the spot-kick into the top right corner of Igor Akinfeev’s net for his sixth goal in successive games.
In the 20th minute the Argentine showed the skill that has also brought him five goals in the competition this season, turning defender Sergei Ignashevich with a cheeky backheel after a Sami Nasri pass and finding the bottom corner.
It was Aguero who also created the third goal half an hour into the game, cutting back a low cross from the right into the path of striker Negredo for an easy tap in.
Negredo put the match beyond the struggling Russians six minutes into the second half after a fine piece of skill from captain Yaya Toure broke the offside trap and Nasri flicked a volley into the Spaniard’s path.
He piled on the misery for the Moscow side in the dying moments heading home from a cross to the back post by substitute James Milner.
Toure said the striking duo could help the side to go far into the knockout stages of the competition.
“They are sharp now. They are working well together and showing what they can do,” he said.
CSKA, who went down 2-1 in the home fixture two weeks ago, took advantage of a loss of City concentration in first-half stoppage time when Swedish midfielder Pontus Wernbloom pushed past the defense and rode a lucky bounce to feed Ivorian striker Seydon Doumbia.
Doumbia scored his second consolation goal from the penalty spot in the 71st minute after French full back Gael Clichy grappled him to the ground as he powered into the City area.
“I think at least one of their goals was a little easy for them,” Pellegrini said of the defensive lapses.
The result gave the Chilean coach’s side nine points in Group D and propelled them into the knockout phase alongside holders Bayern Munich.
Bayern have 12 points after beating Viktoria Plzen 1-0 away, CSKA have three and Plzen none.
Some 500 CSKA fans travelled to Manchester but there was no sign of the racist chanting that marred the fixture in Moscow.
Writing by Clare Lovell, editing by Ed Osmond