Man City clinch spot in knockout stages with point vs. Monchengladbach

MONCHENGLADBACH, Germany -- Here are three points from Manchester City's 1-1 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League.

1. City into the knockout stages

Manchester City secured their place in the last 16 of the Champions League with a game to spare after a 1-1 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach.

David Silva's 45th-minute equaliser cancelled out Raffael's 23rd-minute opener, and in the end, it was a result that suited both sides, with Borussia securing the place in the Europa League that coach Andre Schubert felt was their most realistic target.

Pep Guardiola has never failed to reach the semifinals of the competition as a manager, and City collected the point they needed to avoid a potentially embarrassing exit at the group stage.

Much of the hard work had been done in their previous Group C clash, in which they beat Spanish champions Barcelona 3-1 at the Etihad. Guardiola's side can now focus on the Premier League, with their final group game against Celtic unable to alter their second-place finish in the group.

It wasn't straightforward for his side, which started slowly against a side short of confidence, languishing 13th in the German table and without a win in six Bundesliga games.

Guardiola made four changes from the 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday. Two-goal hero Yaya Toure has patched up his differences with the City boss but is ineligible for the Champions League, while Jesus Navas, David Silva and John Stones came into the starting XI.

Vincent Kompany was also missing after being ruled out for a number of weeks with a knee ligament injury, and Guardiola decided to go with three at the back, but their regular lapses gave the German side encouragement.

Borussia calved open the first opportunity when Fabian Johnson's low shot was saved by Claudio Bravo, and they made the most of more sloppy City defending to take the lead in the 23rd minute.

John Stones was outmuscled in an aerial challenge by Lars Stindl, and his low cross found its way to Raffael, and he fired powerfully past Bravo.

City have now failed to keep a clean sheet in 10 of the past 11 games away from home in Europe, and it's something Guardiola must address when the competition steps up a gear in the knockout round.

It wasn't until the 34th minute that City had their first shot on target when Kevin De Bruyne's corner picked out Ilkay Gundogan on the edge of the box and his low drive was pushed wide by Yann Sommer. They eventually pulled level on the stroke of halftime, when David Silva squeezed in De Bruyne's low cross after good work from Raheem Sterling.

It moved more in their favour when Lars Stindl picked up a second yellow card for a silly body check on Otamendi after he was booked for hacking down De Bruyne in the first half. However, the referee levelled 12 minutes later, when Fernandinho was sent off for pulling back Raffael.

The net result was that the game petered out to a stalemate with the result suiting both teams and ensuring they will both be playing European football in the spring.

2. De Bruyne shows his class

De Bruyne loved his time in Germany, and he again showed how much he has continued to grow since his £50 million move from Wolfsburg 15 months ago.

The Belgium international was voted Germany's player of the season in his final year before his move to the Premier League. He stepped up last season at City and has improved even further under Guardiola's guidance this season.

De Bruyne was behind City's best moments going forward on a night when Sergio Aguero was successfully kept quiet, despite scoring a hat trick against the same defence in the 4-0 win at the Etihad in September.

It was De Bruyne's clever movement that led to the equaliser when he escaped the marking of Oscar Wendt before pulling one back for Silva to score.

He teed up Raheem Sterling at the start of the second half to score, but his effort was ruled out for offside, and De Bruyne later hit a spectacular 20-yard strike that Sommer tipped over the bar.

In a squad full of match winners, the 25-year-old has become Guardiola's main man. City needed a point to secure a place in the last 16 and put the competition on the back burner until the knockout stages resume in February. It was De Bruyne who took control of the game to ensure there were no slip-ups.

3. Three is not the magic number

Guardiola reverted to a back-three at Borussia-Park, and it's a system that City's defence doesn't look particularly comfortable with.

The Catalan manager shouted and waved furiously at his defenders as they repeatedly gave the ball away needlessly, and they often looked overloaded on the wings.

It's a system that Guardiola has tried before -- particularly when he's expecting to face a stubborn and defensive opponent -- but it hasn't gone well on any occasion.

City went with back-threes against Southampton and Everton at home in the Premier League but drew both games 1-1 with defensive errors to blame.

Guardiola opted for John Stones, Nicolas Otamendi and Aleksandar Kolarov against a side that were more focused on protecting their third-place Europa League position than pushing for a victory. None of them looked comfortable.

At times they were isolated with an opponent, while in other moments they were too close together, and it often gave Borussia huge spaces to attack. Guardiola gave up on the system after 30 minutes, with winger Jesus Navas switching to right-back in an orthodox back four.

Pep switched his players around again at halftime, with Otamendi moving to fullback and Fernandinho dropping to centre half. Bacary Sagna was later forced to fill in at full back after the Brazilian saw red. But a back four looked more comfortable defensively and a bigger threat going forward, and Guardiola's experimental setup needs to be finessed on their training pitch before it gets another outing.