Manchester City earned a narrow 2-1 win against a strong Napoli side in a game where both teams lived up to their attacking reputations.

The game was an offensive masterclass of two halves. Manchester City looked imperious during the first throws, battering the Serie A front-runners in an action-packed half which featured heavy usage of goal-line technology, a penalty, and two excellent Manchester City goals.

City manager Pep Guardiola described his team’s performance as “perfect.”

This opinion was warranted for an excellent first half performance in which City opened the scoring early with a cool finish by the in-form England international Raheem Sterling and was quickly followed by a goal from Gabriel Jesus, who connected with a beautiful De Bruyne cross to double the Citizens lead.

"Today we won against an incredible team and to do that you have to make an incredible performance. If we hadn't played at a very high level, we wouldn't have won that game,

"They are one of the best teams I have ever faced, which is why I am so proud. It was perfect. It is impossible to beat them if you don't make a good performance, and we did it, which is why I am so happy.” Guardiola told the BBC in his post-match press conference.

The first half was indeed a testament to Guardiola’s philosophy and his team played Napoli like a fiddle. But the second half saw the team’s reverse roles and City were pushed onto the back foot.

Napoli’s constant pressure earned the Italian side a penalty in the 72nd minute, which was blasted away by the 20-year-old midfielder Diawara.

However, this wasn’t enough for Napoli, who failed to make their relentless pressure pay. City held on and battled to a well-earned victory.

A marked improvement defensively

The media narrative for this game was focused on the two teams attacking strengths – and although this was on show – it was an unexpected defensive resilience from City that won them the game.

Last season the Manchester club’s attacking prowess was so often undone by a nervous and leaky defence when put under pressure. Yet throughout the second half and all Napoli’s attacking possession, the Serie A leaders only managed one clear-cut chance and that was the penalty from which they scored.

This type of solidity at the back is essential for any team to go far in the Champions League and Pep's side accomplished it against a Napoli team who have created 122 chances and scored 26 goals in the league this season.

This new defensive reassurance can be summed up by their new goalkeeper Ederson, who not only saved a first-half penalty but gave a mature performance that radiated out to defenders in front of him. Although there were times in the second half that looked as though City were about to slip into old habits, Ederson’s ability to control the ball and play an accurate pass to a player in space enabled City to manage the game.

To give all the credit to the goalkeeper would be doing the four men in front of him a disservice. The whole back line looks more fluid than last season.

Their quick passing and movement enabled them to pick apart the Napoli press in the first half with ease.

Fabien Delph, although inexperienced at left-back, had a solid game. And so did his right-sided teammate Kyle Walker. Most impressive though was John Stones who, on a number of occasions, put his body on the line to halt a Napoli attack.

They were not perfect, mistakes were made, but Napoli are an excellent pressing side. City fans can take a lot of heart from this defensive display.

Fernandinho the Engine

Much has been written about the importance of De Bruyne, but today it was Fernandinho that shone. During the first half – when City were ascendant – Fernandinho was at the heart of every attack, driving the team forward.

And when City were out of possession he was in the middle of the park winning back the ball.

All great teams have won with a solid spine and this is why Fernandinho is so integral to Guardiola’s side. Without him, City would have been unable to cope with Napoli’s combativeness in midfield during the second half. Fernandinho’s determination, desire and ability to shield the back four stopped a number Napoli attacks from coming to fruition.

For a player so involved as Fernandinho, it is amazing that he only made a couple of mistakes. But it was one of these that proved costly and let Napoli back into the game. Full-back Ghoulam skipped past the Brazilian international and fell foul to a late outstretched leg.

An obvious penalty for the referee to give and a stupid mistake from an otherwise reliable player.

A tough reverse fixture

No one thought this fixture would be easy, but the first 45-minutes seemed to provide an argument that it would. The second half, however, saw a dominant Napoli display, which forebodes a particularly tough reverse fixture at the San Paolo.

Napoli have scored 12 goals from three home fixtures this season, suggesting that in Naples the team is a much different opponent to what came to Manchester. What would be more worrying for Pep Guardiola, would be how toothless his Manchester side looked going forward in the second half.

Although Guardiola’s side managed to hold off Napoli for the last 45-minutes, a whole match of pressure from Sarri’s attacking team, without any threat in return, could prove too much for them away from the Etihad.

Manchester City’s win this evening has announced to Europe they can beat anyone and deserve to be one of the favourites to lift the Champions League trophy this year. However, although there are positives to take away from this game, City will need to battle equally has hard, if not harder, to earn a result when the two teams meet again in November.