Leroy Sane felt Manchester City rediscovered their verve as they overcame a slow start against Hoffenheim to claim top spot in their Champions League group.
City were knocked off the top of the Premier League as they suffered their first domestic defeat of the season at Chelsea last weekend and the hangover initially seemed to carry over into Wednesday’s outing.
The German side created some good early chances at the Etihad Stadium and took an early lead with a penalty from former Leicester striker Andrej Kramaric.
That sparked City into life and they responded by hitting the woodwork twice through Gabriel Jesus and Nicolas Otamendi before two goals from Sane secured first place in Group F. City created numerous other chances and should have won more convincingly than 2-1.
“At the beginning maybe we were a little bit sleepy but at the end we did it really good,” said Sane. “We woke up and played really good football. I am happy, especially with the way we played altogether.”
All of City’s best chances in the first half came from set-pieces with Sane equalising from a stunning free-kick on the stroke of half-time. Due to a spate of injuries, City had no obvious specialists from the 25-yard distance on the field when the 22-year-old stepped up.
“I think in my professional career I have never scored a free-kick,” said Sane. “I thought this was the moment and I just tried it.”
Sane paid tribute to team-mate Raheem Sterling for his involvement in his second, which came from a quick counter-attack.
He said: “I thought Raheem was running in space and I wanted to give him the ball so he could go one-on-one.
“But he’s got good vision, a good eye, and he saw the run coming and passed again to me. I just had to tap in the ball. It was a really good goal.”
Sane, however, could have had a hat-trick had he not passed up a shooting chance on another lightning break from deep. Again Sterling played in Sane but he opted to pass inside to Bernardo Silva, who was denied by goalkeeper Oliver Baumann.
Sane said: “I just regret we didn’t score the goal. It was three against just the goalkeeper.
“I thought I would pass to Bernardo and he would just have to tap the ball in but my eye wasn’t as good as Raheem’s.
“I think it would have been better if I’d just shot the ball in but at the end we are all happy we won.”