Raheem Sterling came through a difficult week to impress in Manchester City’s 2-1 win over Hoffenheim in the Champions League on Wednesday.
The 24-year-old kept his place in Pep Guardiola's starting line-up just four days after he was the victim of alleged racist abuse during City's 2-0 defeat by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Sterling was commended for speaking out against racism on social media in the wake of the incident, and on the same day as being named Premier League player of the month for November, he produced an eye-catching display.
Sterling played a key role in the win, providing the assist for Leroy Sane's decisive goal as City recovered from Andrej Kramaric's early penalty to secure top spot in Group F.
Their No 7 showed intent from the start, dribbling through a crowd of Hoffenheim shirts on City's right flank with his first meaningful touches before a trip sent him flying into defender Benni Hubner.
Sterling was unfortunate not to win a free-kick from that incident and required treatment on the pitch, but he was undeterred.
Soon enough he was running at Hoffenheim again, cutting inside to elude Nico Schulz before releasing a dangerous diagonal pass which was only just scrambled clear before it reached the unmarked Sane at the far post.
There was some smart link-up play with Phil Foden after that, as well as a powerful low cross which was gratefully held by Hoffenheim goalkeeper Oliver Baumann, but his best moment of the first half came when robbed Hubner deep in opposition territory before intelligently cutting the ball back for the onrushing Foden, whose low shot was blocked.
Sane struck City's stunning equaliser seconds before half-time but Sterling was similarly impressive after the break. In the 53rd minute, he was tackled during a City counter-attack but recovered to send a smart backheel through to Gabriel Jesus, who was denied by the feet of Baumann.
Raheem Sterling's performance in stats
- Created four scoring chances (2nd)
- Made four dribbles (2nd)
- Attempted three shots (2nd)
- Made three tackles (1st)
City caught Hoffenheim on the break again moments later, with Sterling leading the charge in a three-on-one attack. His pass looked perfect for Sane to slot home, but the German instead chose to pass to Bernardo Silva, whose shot was saved as the chance went begging.
Sterling then embarked on another driving run through midfield, playing a one-two with Jesus before curling his shot wide.
City did not have to wait long for their second goal, however, and Sterling was once again at the heart of the move. His threaded through ball was perfectly measured for Sane, who took a touch before sliding the ball home.
Sterling had more bright moments in the closing stages, playing a delicious chipped pass over the top to set up Foden, whose thumping volley was acrobatically tipped over by Baumann.
He then missed a good chance of his own as he miskicked Foden's cross, his effort bouncing past the post from eight yards out, but it did not prove costly and the statistics underlined his contribution to the win.
According to Opta, he created four scoring the chances - second only to Sane among City players - and he also worked hard defensively, making more tackles (three) than any of his team-mates.
Judging by this performance, City can be confident that Sterling will deliver more of the same when they face Everton, live on Sky Sports on Saturday.