Aguero marks return in style as City cruise home

Aguero marks return in style as City cruise home

Sergio Aguero returned to first team action in style as he scored just 10 minutes into his long-awaited comeback as City ended the Group C schedule with a 3-0 win over Marseille.

Ferran Torres had put City ahead just after half-time and Raheem Sterling scored in added time, but it will be Aguero who grabs the headlines for his stellar cameo off the bench.

WHAT HAPPENED?

It was a first half of surprisingly few opportunities.

City’s only real chances – despite dominating much of the half – came to Aymeric Laporte who headed Ilkay Gundogan’s free-kick over with the help of a Marseille defender’s scalp.

And then Riyad Mahrez found himself with just Steve Mandanda to beat – but the Marseille keeper saved well with his feet (though a belated flag was raised for offside).

Other than that, John Stones – on for the injured Eric Garcia – made a superb block as Valere Germain raced onto Florian Thauvin’s low cross to keep the scores level.

Perhaps the lack of a natural striker meant there was no focal point for City’s first-half attacks – whatever the reason, it was a fairly tepid first 45 overall.

SECOND HALF

Raheem Sterling replaced Ilkay Gundogan at the start of the second half in a bid to liven up the forward line.

Within three minutes, the change had made a difference and as Mahrez burst into the box on the right, Germain nicked the ball off his toe and inadvertedly put Ferran Torres in and he slid the ball under Mandanda from six yards.

It was Torres’ fourth goal in five Champions League games.

Kyle Walker and Phil Foden could have extended City’s lead before the welcome return of Sergio Aguero on 67 minutes.

And it took our record goal-scorer just 10 minutes to announce his return in style as Nathan Ake’s thumping header from Foden’s corner was parried by Mandanda and poked home by the Argentine predator.

Sterling put the cherry on the cake in added time as Torres’ cross caused confusion and the ball fell at the England forward's feet almost on the goal-line to wrap up a 3-0 win.

It was also the 1,000th City goal since moving to the Etihad, so very much a milestone strike.

WHO GETS THE NOD FOR THE DERBY?

Pep Guardiola has a defensive headache for the Manchester derby – but it’s one he won’t mind.

Aymeric Laporte has had a decent break from first team action but returned against Marseille – but in his absence, John Stones has excelled.

It seems likely Ruben Dias will start but choosing between Laporte and Stones as his partner could be a much tougher choice.


FIVE CLEAN SHEETS IN A ROW

City have now gone five games without conceding a goal.

Defensive shutouts are a very good habit to get into and our back-line’s mean streak is a contrast to the defensive issues of last season.

Our defenders are playing with confidence and assuredness with Nathan Ake and Zack Steffen both impressive in their first games for several weeks.

WHAT IT MEANS…

Effectively nothing with City already qualified for the Champions League Round of 16 – but City have completed a best ever group stage clash with 16 points from a possible 18.

WHAT’S NEXT?

It’s the Manchester derby up next with a short trip to Old Trafford for City who will be looking to avenge last March’s 2-0 loss to the Reds.

Kick-off is 5.30pm this Saturday.

MATCH DETAILS:

Manchester City (3): Steffen; Walker, Eric Garcia (Stones, 28’), Laporte, Aké; Fernandinho, Gündogan (Sterling, 45’), Bernardo Silva; Mahrez (Agüero, 66’), Foden, Ferran Torres

Marsella (0): Mandanda; Sakai, Álvaro González, Balerdi, Nagatomo; Kamara (Rongier, 66’), Sanson, Gueye (gueye, 76’); Thauvin (Ake, 75’), Payet (Cuisance, 66’), Germain (Benedetto, 76’)

Goals: 1-0, Ferran Torres (48’), 2-0, Agüero (77’), 3-0, Sterling (90’)

Referee: Halil Umut Meler


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