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That Copenhagen goal was fun, wasn't it? The fearless drive down the left by Mohamed Elyounoussi, who kept going when he slipped the ball through a rapidly closing gap to Orri Oskarsson. A first-time backheel from the 19-year-old and three trailing defenders were out of the game, the ball sitting up perfectly for Elyounoussi to roll the ball beyond Ederson. Cue a great cry of delight from those who had made the journey from Denmark to Deansgate, a goal that was all they could reasonably have hoped for in a tie that had been decided in added time at Parken last month.

Maybe that one strike was all the more memorable because there was no need to contextualize it, no rush to work out what this might mean for the tie, let alone for Manchester City's bigger ambitions at home and in Europe. It probably was not the best goal scored in the first half but it carried altogether more meaning than Manuel Akanji's excellent hooked volley or Erling Haaland's low drive in at the near post. Elyounoussi's strike actually meant something.

The optimal outcome for City in this game was always going to be that nothing in particular happened. With Liverpool and Arsenal either side of an FA Cup quarterfinal against Newcastle, the priority was to get through this second leg unscathed. Given the standard of opposition that lies ahead of them in the Premier League, there was hardly even any sense in viewing this as a game to try out new tactical wrinkles, to see if fringe players could snatch a starting role. 

Copenhagen might have humbled Manchester United before Christmas but that is hardly the achievement it once was. Anyway, this was not even Denmark's third-placed side at full strength, star midfielder Rasmus Falk unavailable as were veterans Viktor Claesson and Lukas Lerager. For the first time since 1996, a side started three teenagers in a Champions League knockout tie. Oskarsson in particular looks a player of real promise.

City were not at their full complement either. Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden were among those who remained on the bench, Rodri hauled off at the break with the game won and Ruben Dias not long after, Pep Guardiola not willing to risk a yellow card for the only player on the suspension tightrope. The most high-stakes moment of the match for the holders might have been when Mateo Kovacic went down with a knock early on; given the injuries on the flanks City could do with central options that allow them to station the likes of Silva on the wings. Matheus Nunes exited with a dislocated finger, one suspects Guardiola will cope without him.

Of course, Haaland was going to be one of the last to leave the stage, his remorseless pursuit of Champions League goals drawing him level with Sergio Aguero on 41. The Argentine reached that mark in an extremely impressive 78 matches. Haaland's near post drive off a Rodri chip meant he had done it in 37. On his current trajectory he would enter this competition's top 10 all-time scorers in the final City seem bound for.

Before Haaland's strike, the game was done. Akanji opened the scoring in the fifth minute, hooking home one of a string of dangerous Julian Alvarez corners that caused Copenhagen trouble from the outset. When Kamil Grabara spilled Alvarez's long ranger soon after you feared the worst for the visitors. It may well be that City demurred in inflicting that on them. There really was no need. It suited City to coast even if that meant allowing a few chances they might not have otherwise. At least that way everyone got something out of this game.