Agüero and Jesus help City complete easy win
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.
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 Stones rises above Eric Botteghin of Feyenoord to score Manchester City’s fourth and his second