Report as Ferran Torres breaks deadlock for Manchester City before substitutes Gabriel Jesus and Joao Cancelo strike late to add extra gloss to 3-0 victory over Olympiakos in Champions League group stages
Tuesday 3 November 2020 22:55, UK
Manchester City maintained a perfect start to their Champions League campaign as Gabriel Jesus scored on his return in a 3-0 victory over Olympiakos at the Etihad.
Ferran Torres scored in his fourth consecutive game in the competition to give Pep Guardiola’s side the lead after just 12 minutes, but the contest did not evolve into the formality City’s fast start had promised.
Mathieu Valbuena missed a glorious chance to level 10 minutes into the second period before Jesus came off the bench to settle the contest with an unstoppable finish from a tight angle (80).
City added a third as fellow substitute Joao Cancelo’s speculative drive surprised Jose Sa to cap a routine win that preserves their 100 per cent record from three group stage matches ahead of facing Liverpool on Super Sunday, live on Sky Sports.
Olympiakos remain third in Group C while Porto are three points behind City in second place after winning 3-0 against Marseille on Tuesday.
Man City: Ederson (7), Walker (7), Stones (7), Ake (7), Zinchenko (7), De Bruyne (7), Gundogan (7), Foden (7), Mahrez (7), Torres (8), Sterling (7).
Subs: Gabriel Jesus (6), Rodri (6), Joao Cancelo (6).
Olympiakos: Jose Sa (7), Rafinha (6), Semedo (6), Cisse (5), Holebas (6), M’Vila (5), Bouchalakis (4), Camara, Randjelovic (4), El Arabi (5), Valbuena (6).
Subs: Bruma (7), Pepe (5), Masouras (n/a), Hassan (5).
Man of the match: Ferran Torres.
How City made it three wins from three
Olympiakos entered the game without Kostas Fortounis through injury and with a dismal record in England having won just twice in 17 visits, but the most recent of those wins came against Arsenal in the Europa League in February.
City have scored 23 goals this term – 13 fewer than they had plundered this time last year – but there’s a growing feeling they are now slipping into gear after an inauspicious start. Guardiola’s men are looking increasingly capable of steel as well as silk and led 1-0 at the break.
Gabriel Jesus was on the bench. The Brazil striker has been out of action since suffering a thigh injury on the opening day of the season. With Sergio Aguero still sidelined, winger Ferran Torres again starting at centre forward.
Pep Guardiola changed three of his back four for the clash at the Etihad Stadium with John Stones, Nathan Ake and Oleksandr Zinchenko starting along with Kyle Walker. Ilkay Gundogan and Phil Foden also came into the side.
The hosts went straight onto the front foot and had already threatened through Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez and Kevin De Bruyne when Torres, starting as a lone striker, put City into a deserved lead within 12 minutes.
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The goal came as the Spaniard played a good one-two with De Bruyne and then calmly side-footed through the legs of Sa.
Even with five changes to the side that edged Sheffield United last Saturday, City were a cut above their Greek opponents. Olympiakos were indebted to Sa as he twice smothered inviting crosses with Raheem Sterling ready to pounce on both occasions – but City’s advantage at the interval was a slender one despite their dominance.
Olympiakos manager Pedro Martins made a double change at the break involving Bruma, and the winger on loan from PSV Eindhoven transformed the visitors in the second period.
City, by contrast, were pedestrian as their recent lack of cutting edge that has seen them score just four times in their last four Premier League games was again evident.
Foden’s blind pass from Ederson to John Stones as City played out from the back was pounced on by the veteran Valbuena but the 36-year-old sliced his effort wide having been surprised himself by the gift.
By then, Mady Camara had already just failed to connect with Valbuena’s corner but Jesus’ introduction with 22 minutes remaining helped City rediscover their focal point as a second goal duly snuffed out any hopes of a shock Olympiakos revival.
Inevitably, De Bryune was involved as the Belgian fed Jesus down the right of the penalty area. The returning Brazilian fashioned a yard of space and the sheer velocity of his shot took the ball away from Sa at his near post and into the roof of the net.
There was still time for a third to somewhat flatter City despite their 16 attempts – a ninth in three Champions League games in contrast to their recent domestic struggles to find the net – as Cancelo collected the ball in midfield, drove forward and curled a 25-yard strike with his left foot into the corner.
Guardiola full of praise for Stones
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola told BT Sport: “In the first half, we played really well. In the second half, we struggled for some moments but when we scored the second one it was over.
“We’ve had a good three games, nine points. We need three more points or one more point to qualify. We have five days to recover for Liverpool and then the international break.
“They had one or two chances [to equalise]. When we controlled in the way we control, we cannot finish games – we struggle with the second goal – but finally with an incredible goal from Gabriel Jesus and then from Joao Cancelo we win the game.
“John Stones is back, an incredible performance – almost perfect. It’s not easy when you’re a long time without playing.
“The forecast in the next three days says it will be sunny in Manchester. It’s rare. We’re going to have tomorrow off. After that on Friday and Saturday we’ll prepare for the Liverpool game. But the players need a break.”
City tighten up – Opta stats
- Since conceding five goals against Leicester, Manchester City have conceded only three goals in their following eight games, while they have kept a clean sheet in three consecutive matches in all competitions for the first time since September of last year.
- Since the start of the 2017-18 season, only Kylian Mbappé (15) has made more assists than Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne (14) in the UEFA Champions League.
- Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus has been directly involved in nine goals in his last seven appearances in the UEFA Champions League (six goals & three assists).
Man of the match – Ferran Torres
Torres tormented the Olympiakos defence, dropping deep and arriving late in the box during another impressive display which included three key passes for his team-mates.
Moved to the right following Jesus’ arrival, the 20-year-old returned to his natural position having shown his versatility and capped another lively display with his third goal in four games – one of five shots, more than any other player.
Aged 20 years and 248 days, the Spaniard is the third-youngest player in Champions League history to score in four consecutive appearances, behind Kylian Mbappé (18y 120d) and Erling Haaland (19y 107d).
Manchester City next host Liverpool live on Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Main Event from 4pm on Super Sunday; kick-off 4.30pm.
Pep Guardiola’s side continue their Champions League campaign at Olympiakos following the international break on Wednesday November 25; kick-off 5.55pm.
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