Agüero and Je­sus help City com­plete easy win

The Guardian - Sport - - Football Champions League -


0 4 This was a hand­some vic­tory for a Manch­ester City side given scant re­sis­tance from Feyeno­ord. Pep Guardi­ola’s team will face greater chal­lenges in the com­pe­ti­tion but for now they de­serve to en­joy a job done very im­pres­sively.

This win in the Group F opener fea­tured a supreme dis­play of at­tack­ing. Two of their goals came from Ser­gio Agüero and Gabriel Je­sus to take the pair to seven in five out­ings in all com­pe­ti­tions. The man­ager has said they can op­er­ate to­gether, and the Ar­gen­tinian-Brazil­ian combo is cer­tainly prov­ing Guardi­ola right.

Pre-match, Guardi­ola was ea­ger to stop “dream­ing” of Cham­pi­ons League glory yet City had a fan­tasy first-half that ended in a 3-0 lead, the first of the goals com­ing af­ter only 100 sec­onds.

It ar­rived af­ter Fernandinho lost pos­ses­sion near half­way. Feyeno­ord should have turned City, but sud­denly David Silva had pos­ses­sion and was racing along the left, forc­ing a cor­ner. Now came a sim­ple goal for John Stones as he headed the Spa­niard’s de­liv­ery at Brad Jones’s goal. The ball hit Tonny Vilhena but it squirmed over.

There had been a party at­mos­phere be­fore kick-off as Feyeno­ord fans re­galed the ground with their ver­sion of Neil Di­a­mond’s Sweet Caro­line. See­ing their side go be­hind did not qui­eten them, though mo­ments later Feyeno­ord were nearly two down. This time Bernardo Silva loaded the gun for Gabriel Je­sus to fire and the ball was cleared off the line.

Ten min­utes in and City did dou­ble their lead. Kyle Walker was re­cruited for the kind of at­tack­ing right-back play that had him whip­ping in a cross from which the lethal Agüero hooked home. Here was a near-sen­sa­tional start for City and posed the ques­tion what the rest of the con­test might bring.

Guardi­ola had made two in­trigu­ing se­lec­tions. First was Eder­son’s sur­prise in­clu­sion, the goal­keeper mak­ing a swift re­cov­ery from the face in­jury suf­fered when Sa­dio Mané clat­tered him dur­ing Satur­day’s win over Liver­pool. The Cata­lan’s sec­ond choice was of in­ter­est, though no sur­prise given his at­tack­ing ethos. Out went the de­fender Danilo and in came the Por­tuguese Silva, a for­ward in what was the sole change.

Gio­vanni van Bron­ck­horst was with­out Ni­co­lai Jor­gensen, who had top-scored with 21 in Feyeno­ord’s 15th Dutch ti­tle sea­son and first since 1999. What the man­ager needed, though, was a far firmer de­fen­sive block. Each time City roved for­ward they tore the home side apart.

Feyeno­ord fi­nally man­aged a foray near the skull-capped Eder­son on 20 min­utes. Michiel Kramer took aim and Stones de­flected the ball out for a cor­ner. This was about to be­come a stroll for City, though. Yet again they came at Feyeno­ord with pace. Ben­jamin Mendy hit a rocket at Jones and when he saved, his team stood still. This was be­cause Ni­colás Otamendi was a post­code off­side but Je­sus was not when fin­ish­ing and that was 3-0. By the in­ter­val it was no ex­ag­ger­a­tion to bill this as men-ver­sus-boys. City ended the half toy­ing with Feyeno­ord.

Guardi­ola’s sec­ond-half in­struc­tions to his men were surely to sim­ply keep on keep­ing on. Bron­ck­horst’s move was to re­place Steven Berghuis with Jens Toornstra but, re­ally, the head coach might have re­placed any of his mis­fir­ing XI.

City did in­deed pick straight back up. Stones sti­fled a Feyeno­ord at­tack and found David Silva. An in­stant flick inside and Kevin De Bruyne was away. The move broke down but the ex­cel­lent Bel­gian was soon stroking one of his trade­mark in­ci­sive balls down the right as City con­tin­ued to ter­rorise Feyeno­ord.

This was now akin to a train­ing ex­er­cise. The sky-blue shirts pinged the ball around and just be­fore the hour Guardi­ola could af­ford to take off Agüero for Ra­heem Ster­ling. A few min­utes later City were four up. De Bruyne’s ever-grow­ing in­flu­ence was il­lus­trated as his per­fect ball from the left al­lowed Stones to head home for his sec­ond. For the fi­nal pas­sages Guardi­ola threw on Fabian Delph and Leroy Sané for the Span­ish Silva and Fernandinho.

This is the beauty of easy and early wins: key play­ers can be pro­tected and rested for up­com­ing games. Wat­ford, at Vicarage Road, are up next on Satur­day.

Feyeno­ord 5-2-3

Jones; Am­ra­bat (Lars­son, 78), St Juste■, Botteghin■, Van der Heijden, Nelom; El Ah­madi, Vilhena■; Berghuis (Toornstra, h-t), Kramer■ (Vente, 71), Boëtius.

Subs not used

Bi­jlow, Diks, Tapia, Geertru­ida. Eder­son; Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Mendy; Fernandinho (Sané), De Bruyne■, D Silva (Delph, 67); B Silva, Agüero (Ster­ling, 60), Je­sus.

Subs not used

Bravo, Danilo, Gun­do­gan, Man­gala.

Ref­eree S Marciniak (Pol).

John Thys/AFP/ Getty Images

John Stones rises above Eric Botteghin of Feyeno­ord to score Manch­ester City’s fourth and his sec­ond

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