Ederson, Stones, Otamendi, Sterling all rate 9/10 in Man City win at Napoli
This was a historic performance from Manchester City and not just because of Sergio Aguero breaking the club's all-time scoring record. This may well go down in the future as the night City confirmed their status as proper contenders for football's greatest title. Pushed and tested to the limit by a Napoli side that had plenty of guile, City came through the test with flying colours in an exemplary performance.
Europe's best passing team so far this season won the game through the aerial power of their centre-halves. Relying on a more agricultural style to start with, once the wind had been knocked out of Napoli's sails, City got the ball back on the ground and began to dominate possession in familiar fashion. Character and guts aplenty.
From the start it was evident from Ederson, Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones that City intended to play it long out of defence more often than usual. This led to a rattled-looking defence at times during the opening half hour and a goal attempts ratio of 7-2 in favour of the home side.
Manager Rating out of 10
9 -- Pep Guardiola chose to make three critical changes to the lineup. Being able to bring David Silva off the bench precisely when Napoli were flagging was a real boon for City.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Ederson, 9 -- Early saves may have looked regular, but he was being asked to participate much more than usual. Went the wrong way for Jorginho's penalty but made an essential one-handed save from Jose Callejon seconds before City's break-away third goal.
DF Danilo, 8 -- Brought calmness to the right side but had his hands full early on with Faouzi Ghoulam well advanced and Lorenzo Insigne creating havoc.
DF John Stones, 9 -- Outstanding. Lost out to Dries Mertens' clever back-heel for the Napoli opener, but stamped his authority on defensive possession from then on. Up high for the second City goal with an imperious header, he marshalled the backline like a latter-day Bobby Moore.
DF Nicolas Otamendi, 9 -- Hectic evening blocking everything that was thrown at him. Headed in Ilkay Gundogan's far-post cross for the first goal and thereafter stuck to his guns as Napoli attempted to swarm the City goal. How many times did he get a crucial block on through passes?
DF Fabian Delph, 8 -- If there was one player out there who had every right to feel slightly overawed by the company he was keeping, it was Delph, but the left-back was the only one in the defence sticking to the short-passing game in the early stages and grew into a forceful presence down the left flank.
MF Fernandinho, 8 -- Not able to impose himself during the early stages as Napoli flooded forward, but his clever use of ball and space began to shine through, as well as his liking for a tactical foul to slow things down when necessary.
MF Leroy Sane, 7 -- From the second minute, when he delayed a chance to shoot at goal, he was dogged by poor decision-making. He played his part in stretching the home side to the bursting point down the left in the second half, however. Gave away the penalty with an attacker's tackle.
MF Raheem Sterling, 9 -- Fabulous night of direct running that scared the life out of the left side of Napoli's defence. Three great runs saw him weave into the box only to be blocked just as he was about to shoot. Finally got his reward with a fine bit of instant control and wonderfully clinical finish for 4-2.
MF Ilkay Gundogan, 7 -- High up to start with to help press the defence, he left Fernandinho a little exposed. Great shot deflected wide and played the left-footed cross in for Otamendi's headed equaliser.
MF Kevin De Bruyne, 7 -- Quiet to start with as he was left as the main midfield playmaker without Silva alongside, but came into it after the break. By the end was striding across the park and threaded a perfect pass to Sterling for the clincher at 4-2.
FW, Sergio Aguero, 7 -- So little space afforded by Kalidou Koulibaly for much of the game, but was there to pounce on Sane's misfortune to put City in front at 3-2. Patience had paid off for City's all-time record goalscorer.
MF David Silva 8 -- On for Gundogan after 70 minutes and what a difference he made, finding space to slow things down and play in teammates with killer passes. Took no time at all to find his rhythm. Succulent reverse ball set Sane clear and did the same again for Sane's run to set up Aguero's goal.
MF Bernardo Silva, NR -- Arrived as a 74th-minute replacement for Aguero and immediately went on the offensive, with a left footer saved at full stretch by Pepe Reina and a right footer over the bar from Sane's feed.
FW Gabriel Jesus, NR -- Replaced Sane as Guardiola wound down the clock on a wonderful City performance.
Simon is one of ESPN FC's Manchester City bloggers. Follow him on Twitter @bifana_bifana.