Marseille 0, Manchester City 3
Goals by Ferran Torres, Ilkay Gundogan, and Raheem Sterling capped Manchester City’s best performance of the season so far to beat Marseille.Embed from Getty Images
Florian Thauvin hit the post for the unambitious French after the break but City wore them down and late goals by Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling made the game safe.
Victory meant that City topped Group C with 6 points after two games before a double header against Olympiacos.
There were five changes for City – Kevin De Bruyne and Aymeric Laporte returned from injury, Phil Foden had scored at West Ham at the weekend, Torres had scored against Porto in City’s first Champions League game, while Oleksandr Zinchenko earned his first start of the season after his own injury layoff.
The players to miss out were Eric Garcia, Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez, and the injured Sergio Aguero who looks set to miss a month with a hamstring injury.
Defensive Marseille beaten by revitalised Manchester City
Ex Chelsea and Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas switched to a three man back line to stifle City who had been in shaky form recently.
The French were defensive from the start and quickly found themselves on the back foot as City looked a lot more like the City of old, putting them under immediate pressure.
Foden continued his good form from the West Ham game with a shot that tested Steve Mandanda and he took up a role on the left flank while Torres started as City’s centre forward with Gabriel Jesus also out injured.
Both of City’s regular strikers were missed for their ability to sniff out good chances, a sweet cross into the six yard box by Gundogan went unconverted. City didn’t have to worry long though.
They took the lead after 18 minutes when Ferran Torres tapped in fro close range after a misplaced pass into his own box by Valentin Rongier was seized by De Bruyne and stroked into the path of the Spanish winger who made no mistake from the edge of the 6 yard box to hit his 3rd goal of the season.
Raheem Sterling was brought down by the hapless Rongier who lost the ball to the tenacious winger – De Bruyne’s whipped in cross from the free kick was almost converted by Laporte but his effort went straight to Mandanda.
There were worrying moments for De Bruyne when he was stamped on by Leonardo Balerdi after half an hour.
Balerdi lost the ball to Torres who left the ball for Zinchenko to have a shot which shaved the post as Marseille were almost the architect of their own 2-0 deficit as City remained all over them.
It took the home side till the 42nd minute when Nemanja Radonjic had a hopeful shot easily saved by Ederson.
The French continued to keep it tight in the second half and ex-Newcastle attacker Thauvin rattled the post in the 55th minute with a long range effort which Ederson got a hand to.
Late goals by Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling seal victory comfortable victory for Manchester City in Marseille
Jordan Amavi was troubled by Sterling and hauled the winger down for another free kick for De Bruyne which was wasted by Zinchenko as chances remained at a premium.
Marseille started to take more risks in the last quarter of the game, and Ruben Dias cleared a couple of hopeful balls into the City box.
Gundogan’s sweetly struck long range shot was saved by Mandanda after a Sterling cutback as the gaps started opening up.
But the German made no mistake after Foden escaped his marker on the left wing with a burst of pace and his cross was nodded down by Sterling and swept in from close range by Gundogan with 14 minutes to go – his second strike of the season.
City immediately made changes, taking off Torres, Laporte, and Gundogan and bringing on Mahrez, John Stones and Bernardo Silva.
Villas-Boas reacted by bringing on ex-West Ham forward Dmitri Payet for Thauvin.
But City made it 3-0 in the 81st minute after Sterling met a smart cross by De Bruyne to convert from 5 yards out – a classic City goal and his fifth goal of the season.
With the game safe after a brief VAR check there was a Champions League debut for Cole Palmer who replaced De Bruyne – a proud moment for the 18-year-old from Wythenshawe.
GOALS – Marseille 0, Manchester City 3
Marseille 0, Man City 1: 18. Ferran Torres reacted to tap in City’s opener after a mistake by Marseille gifted Kevin De Bruyne a chance to swing a cross into the back post from the right side of the box.
Marseille 0, Man City 2: 76. Ilkay Gundogan swept home the ball after connecting with Raheem Sterling’s knockdown from Phil Foden’s left wing cross.
Marseille 0, Man City 3: 81. Raheem Sterling converted Kevin De Bruyne’s right wing square ball after great work by Riyad Mahrez.
MATCH STATS – Marseille 0, Manchester City 3
Marseille: Mandanda, Sakai, Balerdi, Caleta-Car, Amavi, Rongier (Sanson 64), Kamara, Cuisance (Gueye 85), Thauvin (Payet 78), Radonjic (Benedetto 78)
Marseille Subs Not used: Ngapandouetnbu, Pele, Strootman, Henrique, Ake, Nagatomo, Germain
Booked: Amavi 62 (shirt pull on Raheem Sterling); Caleta-Car 72 (bad foul on Kevin De Bruyne)
Man City: Ederson, Walker, Dias, Laporte (Stones 77), Zinchenko (Cancelo 68), Rodri, Gundogan (Bernardo Silva 77), De Bruyne (C) (Palmer 82), Torres (Mahrez 78), Foden, Sterling
Man City Subs Not used: Carson, Steffen, Garcia, Nmecha, Doyle, Harwood-Bellis, Bernabe
Booked: Laporte 58 (foul on Leonardo Balerdi)
Goals: Torres 18; Gundogan 76; Sterling 81
Referee: Tobias Stieler