SEVILLE, Spain, Nov 3 (Reuters) - Raheem Sterling finally showed why Manchester City paid 49 million pounds ($75.55 million) for his servies when he inspired them to a 3-1 win over Sevilla and a place in the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday.
He got the opening goal after eight minutes to become, at 20 years and 330 days, their youngest scorer in the five seasons they have been in the competition, had a hand in the second, and terrorised Sevilla with mesmerizing runs, feints and passes.
It was a superb performance by the former Liverpool forward that went a long way to justifying City's huge outlay on the young England international in the close season.
Sterling was typically low-key and guarded, as he usually is when talking to the media afterwards, giving the impression he would rather be anywhere else than in front of the cameras.
"It was definitely a special goal for me, the first goal in the Champions League," he told BT Sport. "But most important for me was the way the team played tonight. I thought we did great and took our chances when we needed to."
Sterling played 18 times for Liverpool in the Europa League without scoring, and had failed to find the net in his previous three Champions League games for City this season.
He has never been a prolific scorer, despite playing as a forward who creates and gets plenty of chances.
But recently he has found the net with more regularity, scoring for England against Estonia and hitting a hat-trick for City against Bournemouth last month, and his play on Tuesday certainly hinted that he has the potential to score far more.
"Being at a club like this with the players they have got, it's a learning process every day and I am happy to be developing as a player and play in matches like these," he said
Sterling started wide on the left against Sevilla and showed real quality by sidefooting home the first goal with a deft left-foot strike after eight minutes.
He then showed strength and determination to set up the move that led to City's second three minutes later and went on one dazzling run in the second half that almost led to another goal.
He came off to a standing ovation after 73 minutes when he was replaced by Kevin de Bruyne, much to the relief of Sevilla, after completing more successful dribbles and key passes than any other player on the pitch.
$1 = 0.6486 pounds Reporting by Mike Collett; editing by Ken Ferris