MANCHESTER, England (AP) – Raheem Sterling scored a quickfire second-half hat trick as 10-man Manchester City thrashed Atalanta 5-1 on Tuesday to put one foot in the Champions League knockout stage.
The England forward struck three times in the space of 11 minutes after Sergio Aguero had netted twice to cancel out Ruslan Malinovsky's penalty opener for the visitors at the Etihad Stadium.
City's victory lifted it five points clear at the top of Group C with three games still to play after Shakhtar Donetsk salvaged a 2-2 draw with Dinamo Zagreb in the other match.
However, there were a couple of negatives for City as midfielder Phil Foden was sent off for two bookable offences and Rodri hobbled off injured.
Manager Pep Guardiola also saw his team get off to a sluggish start which allowed Atalanta to make a lot of the early running.
Despite its poor record in the competition, Atalanta showed the attacking intent that has again lifted it to third in Serie A after finishing in that position last season.
And the visitors took the lead after 28 minutes as Fernandinho brought Josip Ilicic down just inside the area and Malinovskyi sent Ederson the wrong way from the resulting spot kick.
City responded well and was back level within six minutes as Sterling ran across the edge of the box and clipped in a cross for Aguero to calmly tap past Pierluigi Gollini.
The hosts then stepped up a gear and soon claimed the lead with a penalty of their own - converted by Aguero - after Sterling was brought down by Andrea Masiello following another weaving run.
Atalanta offered little after the break and City took a firm grip on the game with a fine team goal just before the hour.
Riyad Mahrez released Kevin De Bruyne down the right and he burst into the area to feed Foden, who in turn teed up Sterling for an emphatic finish from six yards.
Sterling struck again soon after as he raced onto a defense-splitting pass by Ilkay Gundogan and wrongfooted a defender to fire home.
Remo Freuler put the ball in the net for Atalanta but was ruled offside before Sterling completed his treble by turning home an inviting cross by Mahrez.
City's night ended on a bad note as Foden, booked moments earlier for a foul, was shown a second yellow card for pulling back Atalanta midfielder Marten De Roon.