Samir Nasri inspired Manchester City to a 2-0 Champions League win at Roma and qualification from Group E.
A dramatic Sergio Aguero hat-trick in the 3-2 win over group winners Bayern Munich last time out had kept City in the hunt for the second qualification place, despite a largely lacklustre campaign.
And despite their talisman’s absence with a knee injury on Wednesday, Manuel Pellegrini’s team recovered from a shaky start at the Stadio Olimpico to produce their most assured European performance of the season against a Roma team that lacked ideas in attack.
By contrast, Nasri buzzed inventively throughout for City and his wonderful 60th-minute effort cannoned home off the upright.
A post came to City’s rescue 11 minutes later when Joe Hart got a decisive fingertip onto Kostas Manolas’ header and, with Bayern beating CSKA Moscow 3-0 in Germany, their progress to the knockout stages was confirmed when Nasri set up Pablo Zabaleta to score a second four minutes from time.
Former England defender Ashley Cole was unable to win a place in Roma’s matchday squad, while experienced midfielder Daniele De Rossi was only named as a substitute.
Edin Dzeko led the City attack as Aguero began his recuperation – the Argentine forward leading a high-profile list of absentees that also included Vincent Kompany (hamstring) and Yaya Toure (suspension), while David Silva returned to the visitors’ bench after a knee problem.