Pep Guardiola's free-scoring Manchester City took a huge step towards the Champions League knockout stages as they edged to a thrilling 2-1 win over Group F rivals Napoli.
City have cruised to the top of the Premier League - netting 29 goals in eight league games this term - and any claims that Serie A's own in-form leaders could halt the hosts' fine run looked to have been put to bed inside the opening quarter of an hour at the Etihad Stadium.
Guardiola had predicted a "fascinating" contest and that it was, but poor Napoli initially had no answer to City's rampant attacking play as Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus scored early on.
Maurizio Sarri ignored his president's calls to rest key men for this match - with second-placed Inter visiting the San Paolo this weekend - but Dries Mertens' first notable contribution was to see a penalty saved.
However, as City stepped off the gas after the break, Napoli hit their stride and a second spot-kick - from Amadou Diawara - was converted to set up a dramatic finish.
The visitors could not then force an equaliser, but their second-half dominance will have given Guardiola food for thought as his side move on to nine points; the Etihad crowd certainly felt their nerves jangling in the closing stages.
City have never played out a goalless draw in a group game in this competition and it quickly became clear that Guardiola's unchanged side would maintain that entertaining record in a stunning display.
Sterling swept a finish beyond the wrongfooted Pepe Reina - for his eighth of the season - after Kyle Walker's close-range shot was blocked, with a second goal following just four minutes later through Jesus, who converted from Kevin De Bruyne's low, sweeping centre.
Having won each of their previous three home league games by a margin of five, City's momentum did not slow.
Sterling delayed his pass as the relentless hosts broke in numbers after a rare Napoli foray, but Leroy Sane had the patience and awareness to then pick out De Bruyne on the edge of the area for a thunderous drive that rattled the underside of the crossbar.
Goal-line technology confirmed that the Belgian's effort had not crossed the line and referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz was again checking his watch when Reina and Kalidou Koulibaly combined to scramble Jesus' strike away from the goalmouth.
Napoli looked to have been handed a route back into the game towards the end of the first half but, when Walker dragged Raul Albiol down, Ederson blocked Mertens' penalty and Fernandinho hacked clear.
The visitors momentarily gained a foothold in the tie, despite the miss, but only a vital Reina block kept Jesus from further extending City's lead.
10+ - Napoli have faced 10+ shots in a Champions League first half only five time, three of them against Manchester City. Shock.— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) October 17, 2017
Although Napoli kicked on after the restart, forcing the home side back, chances for Sarri's men were initially few and far between and they were dealt a blow just before the hour mark as Lorenzo Insigne hobbled off.
City were seemingly caught out by their opponents' vast improvement, though, and Marek Hamsik looked destined to equal Diego Maradona's all-time Napoli scoring record when Mertens squared to his captain - with Ederson grounded - only for John Stones to make a brilliant diving block.
But the visitors did not have to wait much longer for their goal. Fernandinho's foul on Faouzi Ghoulam resulted in a second spot-kick and Diawara took on the responsibility, finally ending a run of six consecutive Champions League penalty saves from City goalkeepers.
Jesus thought he had restored the two-goal lead but strayed offside from De Bruyne's pass, before the midfielder tested Reina with a free-kick and Mertens dragged wide at the other end.
City saw out the victory, but they know they must head to the San Paolo in a fortnight - that prospect will feel rather more daunting now than it did at half-time, even if they need only a point in Italy to secure their progression.
Key Opta stats:
- In all competitions, Manchester City have now recorded 10 consecutive victories; equalling their previous best run under Pep Guardiola (10 wins at the start of 2016-17).
- Manchester City have won their opening three games of a European tournament for the first time since 2008-09 (in the UEFA Cup), however this is the first time they have achieved it in the Champions League.
- The Citizens have also won three consecutive home games in the Champions League for the first time, and are now unbeaten in their last 11 overall (W8 D3).
- Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in 21 goals in 20 starts in all competitions for Manchester City (15 goals, 6 assists).
- Raheem Sterling has already scored 8 goals in 11 appearances for Manchester City this season; two fewer than he did in 47 appearances last term (10).
- Manchester City goalkeepers have saved six of the last seven penalties that they have faced in the Champions League (three by Joe Hart, two by Willy Caballero and one by Ederson).
- Manchester City's starting XI tonight was their youngest in the Champions League under Pep Guardiola (26y 73d), and their youngest in the competition overall since October 2012 (25y 309d v Borussia Dortmund).
|Lukaku tipped for ´big things´ by United team-mate Matic|
|Emery hopes Classique can inspire Real Madrid comeback|
|I thought he was an actor! - Valverde dodges Arthur questions|
|Valverde hints at resting Messi, Suarez for Girona clash|
|Napoli sign free agent Milic|
|Zidane offers condolences after Basque police officer´s death|
|FA charge Guardiola over yellow ribbon protest|
|City have to lift titles - Guardiola focused on Wembley glory against Arsenal|
|Spalletti urges Inter to ´believe in our strength´ and end wretched run|
|Christensen a future Chelsea captain, says Conte|
|Fonte leaves West Ham for Dalian Yifang|
|Guardia Civil search Guardiola family´s plane|
|Unwell Neymar facing race to make Le Classique|
|Playing Chelsea means less and less every year, says Mourinho|
|Conte hopes Manchester United bench ´fantastic´ Pogba|
|Dembele ´a genius of football´ like Maradona and Ronaldinho, claims Pochettino|
|Villarreal suspend Semedo after attempted murder allegation|
|Jesus could return but Guardiola has doubts over Sterling|
|He took 10 seconds to be ready – Mourinho salutes professional Pogba|
|Alderweireld a doubt as Pochettino stays silent on transfer rumours|
|Conte dismisses Mourinho tension|
|Nothing is decided - Klopp urges against Liverpool complacency|
|Heynckes ´can´t imagine´ Bayern sanctioning Lewandowski sale|
|FIFA closes Neymar´s Barcelona bonus case|
|Bale still important to Real Madrid, Zidane insists|
|Heynckes plays down Robben´s frustration|
|Central Coast Mariners 1 Wellington Phoenix 0: Hosts end 11-match winless run|
|Arsenal handed tough Milan test in Europa League´s round of 16|
|Europa League: Last-16 draw in full|
|Vitolo apologises for sexist ´joke´ after Atletico win|
|Paletta joins Jiangsu Suning|
|Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar are the only superstars, says Pele|
|Arsenal have ´unfinished business´ in EFL Cup after 2011 loss - Wilshere|
|Srna given 17-month doping ban|
|Arsenal boss Wenger backs Wilshere after Keane rant|
|Basque police express ´dismay´ at death of officer after fan violence|
|Wembley hero Ramsey winning race to face Manchester City|
|EFL Cup final: Bravo and Ospina pitch to be heroes before stepping back into the shadows|
|EFL Cup final: Wenger aiming for another glorious Wembley outing|
|CONCACAF Champions League Review: Guadalajara poised for quarters, Red Bulls draw|
|Keane: Wilshere is the most over-rated player on the planet|
|Stoger: Dortmund were lucky to survive Atalanta scare|
|Gattuso hopes to continue as AC Milan boss|
|Europa League Review: Arsenal survive scare, Dortmund battle past Atalanta|
|´Complacent´ Arsenal had no ideas, Wenger admits|
|Wilshere pulls no punches after Arsenal´s Ostersunds defeat|
|Batshuayi accuses Atalanta fans of racism|
|Villarreal defender Semedo charged with attempted murder|
|Police officer dies after clashes between Athletic Bilbao and Spartak Moscow fans|
|Atalanta 1 Borussia Dortmund 1 (3-4 agg): Returning Schmelzer strikes late|
|AC Milan 1 Ludogorets 0 (4-0 agg): Borini strike secures victory at San Siro|
|Arsenal 1 Ostersunds 2 (4-2 agg): Gunners through despite Emirates shock|
|Simeone open to Carrasco, Torres exits amid CSL reports|
|Mancini: Zenit not Europa League contenders|
|Europa League Review: Napoli´s comeback in vain, Immobile sends Lazio through|
|Ferdinand has doubts over Kane´s Tottenham future|
|Zenit 3 Celtic 0 (3-1 agg): Ivanovic inspires second-leg turnaround|
|Atletico Madrid 1 Copenhagen 0 (5-1 agg): Gameiro ensures Simeone´s men cruise through|
|Why De Gea really is untouchable as the Premier League´s best goalkeeper|
|I wouldn´t sell him - Arbeloa wants Bale to remain at Real Madrid|
|Leeds United delay reveal of new club crest|
|Guti urges Neymar to leave PSG for Real Madrid|
|Azpilicueta: Chelsea must be perfect to beat Barcelona|
|Roma star Under tipped to win Ballon d´Or before 2023|
|Zola denies he will join Sarri at Chelsea next season|
|Barcelona is my club - Sergi Roberto rejects other interest to sign new deal|
|Lewandowski employs Zahavi as agent as Real Madrid rumours continue|
|Pardew confirms Evans remains West Brom captain|
|Muntari joins Seedorf at Deportivo La Coruna|
|Rooney: Moving to China for the money would have been easy|
|Carrasco left out of Atletico squad amid China move reports|
|Arthur: Move to Barcelona still on track|
|Blatter backs Morocco 2026 World Cup bid|
|Wenger sees Welbeck emerging from torrid struggles|
|Zidane stands by selfless Benzema|
|´Important names´ keen on Inter star Icardi|
|Manchester United v Chelsea: Mourinho and Conte´s feud in their own words|
|Manchester United v Chelsea: Grant´s disastrous debut, Drogba´s ´offside´ goal and other Old Traffor|
|Walker motivated by EFL Cup final showdown with Arsenal|
|Manchester United v Chelsea: ´Specialist in failure´, eye-pokes and Mourinho´s other best rows|
|CONCACAF Champions League Review: America close in on quarters with huge win|
|Keane defends Pogba as former United captain demands more from Lukaku and Sanchez|
|Stoger labels Reus ´indispensable´ amid Milan links|
|Ferdinand and Man United team-mates doubted De Gea|
|Shakhtar would´ve won by more if not for Roma´s Alisson – Fonseca|
|Championship Review: Wolves squander two-goal lead to Norwich, Cardiff City take advantage|
|Mourinho happy with ´big effort´ from Pogba|
|Mourinho questions medical staff after ´bad´ Herrera injury|
|Sarri demands better from Napoli ´buffoons´|
|Mourinho hugs reporter for asking about McTominay instead of Pogba|
|Di Francesco slams Roma: I should have substituted half of them!|
|De Gea happy with ´important´ wonder save|
|Vazquez and Asensio important to Madrid, says Zidane|
|Shakhtar Donetsk 2 Roma 1: Fred stunner seals first-leg comeback|
|Sevilla 0 Manchester United 0: De Gea ensures Mourinho´s men stay level|
|Herrera injury gives dropped Pogba chance for reprieve|
|Firmino insists he did not abuse Holgate|
|Leganes 1 Real Madrid 3: Casemiro inspires comeback for Zidane´s men|
|Milan have everything to lose – Gattuso worried about complacency|
|United a big team in defeat - Mourinho aims dig at City|
|Firmino escapes punishment after Holgate allegation|
|Mourinho benches Pogba for Sevilla clash|
|Gremio refute claims of €40m Arthur agreement with Barcelona|
|Messi will sign another Barcelona contract, predicts Bartomeu|
|UEFA rejects PSG appeal over Rabiot´s Real Madrid booking|
|James to miss ´a few days´ of Bayern training with calf injury|
|Nantes not stopping Ranieri if Italy come calling|
|Milan owner Li slams ´fake news´ over financial woes|
|Wenger still gunning for top four spot with Arsenal|
|AFC Champions League Review: Kanazaki braces inspires Kashima|
|Ospina to get Wembley nod as Wenger waits on Ramsey|
|Pogba not struggling at United, claims Deschamps|
|Escape Messi´s shadow? Change sport! - Henry´s advice to Neymar|
|Horsing around: Muller takes tips from equine companion|
|Ronaldo jets off for a break as Madrid head to Leganes|
|Mistake to let Kroos leave Bayern for Madrid - Sammer|
|Spalletti tips Ancelotti for Italy job|
|Mendy on course for World Cup, says Deschamps|
|Man Utd on dismal knockout run, Roma have Shakhtar curse - Champions League in Opta numbers|
|Azpilicueta hoping for greater fortune at Camp Nou|
|Out of nothing he can score goals – Heynckes hails Muller|
|CONCACAF Champions League Review: Giovinco inspires Toronto, Tigres held|
|Ranieri: I´ll quit Nantes if offered Italy job|
|Barcelona are great even without Neymar – Willian|
|Conte wants to see out Chelsea contract but has bags packed|
|Messi goal will give Barcelona more space at Camp Nou – Suarez|
|Conte defends ´incredible´ Christensen after Barcelona error|
|Bayern taking nothing for granted after 5-0 demolition – Heynckes|