Ferran Torres’s fourth purpose of the group stage ensured Manchester Metropolis headed the part unbeaten for a second consecutive 12 months, their 16 factors the joint-highest return of any English staff within the competion’s historical past.
Pep Guardiola will likely be as happy with this cold-eyed show as he’ll at having Sergio Agüero again on the sphere, the ahead scoring after solely 10 minutes of a late cameo.
Given how Manchester United had been dumped out of the competitors on Tuesday, the sight of Metropolis’s report purpose scorer returning forward of Saturday’s 183rd derby at Previous Trafford will hardly enthuse Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s staff.
Guardiola retained solely Ilkay Gündogan and Riyad Mahrez from Saturday’s win right here over Fulham, whereas naming Sergio Agüero instead, returning after a knee drawback, the American Zack Steffen in purpose for his Champions League debut, and Ferran Torres at No 9, with Gabriel Jesus additionally on the bench.
Regardless of the adjustments and his facet already having gained the group, Guardiola patrolled the technical space along with his ordinary depth. A well-known sample of quick passing typically moved the ball in the direction of Steve Mandanda’s purpose, as when Phil Foden accomplished one sequence with a cross geared toward Kyle Walker. The proper-back leaped excessive however his header was misdirected. A clearer likelihood got here when Bernardo Silva threaded a go to Mahrez. The Algerian was clear however left his supervisor clutching his head because the shot was saved by Mandanda.
Metropolis’s opener felt a matter of time but it surely was to not come in the course of the first half. Their incessant stress subsequent featured Gündogan’s free-kick being met with a robust Aymeric Laporte header however, once more, this was off beam.
Now got here a primary foray from Marseille. Dimitri Payet switched from his central striker position to the appropriate and floated the ball in. Metropolis might be weak aerially and so it proved: Laporte was nowhere close to the supply and Valère Germain ought to have finished higher than a miscued header.
Then there have been two eye-catching moments. First, Mahrez trapped a spinning diagonal ball lifeless with nonchalance and performed Walker. Then a mazy Foden run took him into area the place he unloaded at purpose however the ball was skied over.
By the interval the competition remained goalless. After a 20-yard Mahrez effort went large, Marseille loved some sustained stress. John Stones, on for the injured Eric García, made a sliding problem to disclaim Germain.
Moments later Morgan Sanson steered previous Steffen’s proper publish. And, then, Pape Gueye was denied by the latter at shut vary.
André Villas-Boas’s facet’s hopes of ending third and thus incomes a Europa League berth had been rocked three minutes into the second interval. This time Metropolis’s radar was exact – within the slick relaying of the ball from Laporte to Silva to Mahrez to Torres – and within the latter’s ruthless end.
This had Villas-Boas visibly livid as Marseille’s activity of bettering Olympiakos’s outcome to be able to qualify – the Greeks had been shedding to Porto at that time – had turn out to be far more durable. The sight of Kevin De Bruyne, Jesus and Benjamin Mendy warming up is not going to have cheered the guests both, Raheem Sterling having already changed Gündogan on the break.
Nonetheless, Florian Thauvin provided a glimpse of hope for the guests with a run on the appropriate although his cross was minimize out and, now, Foden subsequent confirmed for Metropolis. He dissatisfied when twice solely giving Mandanda tame efforts that had been straightforward for the keeper.
The sky blue shirts had been, although, in agency management, flooding Marseille’s closing third at will. Alongside the touchline a grinning Agüero loved a vigorous warm-up and was then launched on 66 minutes.
Agüero’s intuition allowed him to make it 2-0 from shut vary after Nathan Aké’s header was saved, earlier than Sterling bundled in a late third.