Stylish City cruise to victory against Marseille
City’s excellent start to this season’s Champions League continued with a superb 3-0 win over Marseille.
It was our first competitive win on French soil and the style and panache it was achieved suggests that Pep Guardiola’s side are nearing their best.
Ferran Torres put City ahead in the first-half and further strikes from Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling left the Ligue 1 side well-beaten on their own turf.
As is regularly the case, City started against a side looking to contain and defend in numbers.
The hosts showed little ambition in the early exchanges and had been almost exclusively pinned in and around their own box when City opened the scoring.
A wayward defensive pass by Valentin Rongier couldn’t have found a worse recipient as Kevin De Bruyne collected in space on the edge of the box before slotting a low pass into the middle for Ferran Torres to side-foot home with 18 minutes played.
It was a lead City had earned and deserved.
Raheem Sterling was a continued threat down the right and De Bruyne and Foden were bright and inventive, but it was Oleks Zinchenko who almost doubled City’s lead on 36 minutes when Torres picked up a stray pass and Zinchenko took over, drilling a low shot that kissed the outside of the right-hand post.
Marseille ventured out a little more after the break, but whenever they did manage to get the ball into the City box, Aymeric Laporte and Ruben Dias were on hand to clear.
But clear-cut chances were few and far between at either end.
There was always the danger than one goal would not be enough, so it was with some relief when City finally doubled the lead.
Phil Foden skipped past a challenge on the left before clipping a cross to the back post for Sterling to keep alive and Ilkay Gundogan to slot home from seven yards.
With 76 minutes played, it gave Pep Guardiola’s men much-needed breathing space and the Catalan responded by withdrawing four of his players to bring on fresh legs to see the game out.
And a third 81 minutes gave the margin of victory a more realistic look, with De Bruyne exchanging passes with Riyad Mahrez before the Belgian again played the perfect pass into the box for Sterling to tap home from close range.
CITY BACK TO THEIR BEST?
From minute one to the last, this was City playing somewhere near our best.
It was a game Guardiola’s men totally dominated, and against a side who finished runners-up to PSG last season – and a side that have already beaten PSG away this campaign.
The movement was excellent, the passing crisp and the finishing when it was presented, clinical.
The pace of the passing would have pleased the boss most of all, with Marseille unable to live with the visitors on the night.
Considering our injury issues, this was impressive stuff.
WHAT IT MEANS…
City are sitting pretty with six points from two games.
Another win over Olympiacos next Tuesday will put City within one win of Round of 16 progression with three games to play.
Porto are second, level on three points with Olympiacos, while Marseille are bottom having lost both their opening games.
City are back in Premier League action at the weekend, with a 12.30pm Saturday clash away to Sheffield United.
Then, it’s Olympiacos at the Etihad the following Tuesday as the games continue to come thick and fast.
Marsella (0): Mandanda; Balerdi, Álvaro González, Caleta-Car; Sakai, Kamara, Rongier (Sanson, 63’), Amavi; Cuisance (Gueye, 84’), Radonjic, Thauvin (Payet, 77’)
Manchester City (3): Ederson; Walker, Rúben Dias, Laporte (Stones, 77’), Zinchenko (Cancelo, 68’); Rodri, Gündogan (Bernardo Silva, 77’), De Bruyne (Palmer, 82’); Ferran Torres (Mahrez, 77’), Sterling, Foden
Goals: 0-1, Ferran Torres (17’), 0-2, Gündogan (76’), 0-3, Sterling (81’)
Referee: Tobias Stieler. Bookings: Laporte (58’), Amavi (62’), Caleta-Car (71’)