Manchester City ease into Champions League last 16

Manchester City ease into Champions League last 16

Manchester City's Spanish coach Josep Guardiola gestures during the UEFA Champions League group stage soccer match between Olympiakos and Manchester City on 25 November 2020 at Georgios Stadium- Karaiskakis in Piraeus, near Athens.  AFP

Manchester City booked their place in the Champions League round of 16, but Pep Guardiola had more concerns about his team’s lack of cruelty in a 1-0 win at Olympiakos on Wednesday.

Phil Foden’s low shot nine minutes before the break ensured that City deservedly maintained their 100 percent record in Europe this season.

But a one-goal margin of victory was little reward for the visitors’ dominance even with a highly rotated team.

Guardiola made five changes to the team beaten 2-0 at Tottenham on Saturday to give City their worst start to the league since the first months of ownership of the Abu Dhabi-backed club.

Scoring goals has been City’s big problem in the Premier League, but they had scored three in each of their first three Champions League wins over Porto, Marseille and Olympiakos in Manchester three weeks ago.

The lack of a murderous advantage was clear evidence in Piraeus. City had 21 attempts on goal, 10 of which were on goal, but again lost the presence of Sergio Agüero in the last third.

Agüero started on the bench while his former father-in-law Diego Maradona was remembered with a minute of silence before kick-off.

Maradona, whose daughter Giannina was married to Agüero, died Wednesday at age 60.

Once the action got underway, City soon got under way.

José Sa denied Gabriel Jesús when the Brazilian scored clean and twice made good saves to deny Raheem Sterling from outside the area.

Sterling became the creator for the only goal with a beautiful heel in the way of Foden, who scored his fourth goal of the season.

Opportunities continued to come and go for City after the break. Ilkay Gundogan shot inches wide before Joao Cancelo and Bernardo Silva fired straight at Sa with the goal at their mercy.

But one goal was enough as Olympiakos failed to get a single shot on goal, complicating their chances of reaching the round of 16.

The Greek champions are three points behind second-placed Porto, who travel to Marseille on Wednesday afternoon.

City only need one point from their last two games to secure first place in Group C.

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