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City advance to last 16 of Champions League

Foden strike enough to beat Olympiakos 1-0

Manchester City secured its place in the knockout stage of the Champions League with a 1-0 win over Olympiakos Wednesday.

A first-half strike from Phil Foden was all the Blues would need to get past the Greeks in another dominating performance.

Game Story

 As they’ve done for most of their Champions League matches so far, the Blues started brightly with a good chance just three minutes in.

Some great work by John Stones to pick out Benjamin Mendy down the left as he hooked a nice cross into the box.

The Greek defence could only clear it as far as Rodri who smashed a volley towards goal but too close to Jose Sa.

The Blues continued to press with much of the ball trying to find an opening through the tough Greek defence.

A wonderful flick by Foden in the 8th-minute found Raheem Sterling but Pepe was there to clear the danger.

Olympiakos seemed content through much of the early stages to hang back.

City had a good free-kick opportunity in the 27th minute.

Foden sent a nice ball into the box that was met by Ruben Dias but his header was off-target.

Jose Sa came up big for his club in the 31st minute.

Bernardo Silva played a terrific throughball to Gabriel Jesus who did well to get ahead of his man and stay onside.

His low shot was kicked out by the leg of Sa.

Three minutes later City got the goal they deserved.

Some great hold up play by Jesus before he spotted a streaking Raheem Sterling down the left-hand side of the area.

His back-heel found Foden who one-timed it home for the opening goal.

The Blues looked determined to increase their advantage and likely would have if not for the brilliance of Sa.

In the 41st minute, a great effort by Sterling from just outside the area but Sa was there to push it away.

In injury time in the first-half a nice effort from Sterling again but Sa is there to deflect it onto the crossbar and out.

Into the second-half early on Pedro Martins’ men looked a lot hungrier and determined to equalize.

A free-kick in the 47th minute from Drager saw his cross well cleared by Ilkay Gundogan.

Mendy had a good chance in the 53rd minute picking up a loose ball outside the area.

Despite having plenty of time he mishit his strike and the shot went wide.

In the 61st minute, Sa is there again to keep the Blues at bay.

A corner lands straight to Joao Cancelo but his strike is straight at the keeper.

A minute later the Greeks had a chance to equalize when Drager fired a cross into the box which was cleared by City before Masouras could get there.

Into the 76th minute, City came close again after a neat pass from Foden to slot Bernardo Silva down the right.

The Portuguese’s cross sailed just wide of the far post.

Some great play by Soudani for Olympiakos in the 81st minute as he cut inside from the right flank.

His shot was well blocked but it wouldn’t have counted anyway as the flag was up for offside.

In the 88th minute, Olympiakos’ best attacking threat all game Konstantinos Fortounis has a shot go just wide.

Two minutes later Camara sent a nice cross into the box for Cisse but his header sailed over the bar.

Beating them at their own game

 Throughout the 90 minutes, it was the Blues who showed the normally defensively sound Greeks how to defend.

City whose conceded 11 times in the Premier League this season has been stellar in that department so far in Europe.

The Blues have not conceded a goal in the Champions League since the 14th minute of their opening fixture with FC Porto.

 It’s the first time since the 1969/70 season that City have kept three successive clean sheets in Europe.

That season the Blues went on to win the European Cup Winners Cup, their only European triumph to date.

The Greek side conceded for the first time at home in this Champions League campaign and if not for some brilliant saves from Sa the score would’ve been much worse.

Man of the Match

 This was a confident and inspiring performance by City’s Phil Foden.

A well-taken strike in the 36th minute was just one of many great moments for the England international.

He was heavily involved in the build-up, had some clever passes, and was a force for much of the match.

He’s now got five goals this season for club and country.

City has yet to lose when Foden gets on the scoresheet.

Manager’s Words

 City boss Pep Guardiola praised his teams’ resilience against a side that likes to defend.

“Today we were much more aggressive to the goal. It is not easy when there are nine players defending. Our central defenders were outstanding – John Stones, it is not easy when you have not played for a long time,” says Guardiola.

“In general, the performance was of a top, top level. Unfortunately, we couldn’t score a second and a third one, or the game would have been completely different at the end. We came here to get to the last 16. We are there again and now we focus on the Premier League.”

Keeping it 100

 City have now won each of their opening four games in a Champions League campaign for the second time.

They achieved that feat back in the 2017/18 campaign winning their first five fixtures.

Pep Guardiola’s now progressed past the Champions’ League group stage in all 12 attempts with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Man City as a manager.

That’s the best 100% record of any manager.

What it means

 The win guarantees City will see the second phase of the competition once again with 12 points from four matches.

Porto beat Marseille 2-0 in the other group game which means the Portuguese champions are nearly through the last 16 as well.

With two group games remaining it’s all about positioning for Guardiola’s side as Porto are just three points back.

Olympiakos need to win out and hope Porto get no points from their remaining games in order to have any hope of advancing

The best Marseille can hope for now is a third-place spot.

That would relegate them to the Europa League.

The Greeks are three points clear of Marseille for that spot.

Next up

 City hosts Burnley in the EPL on Saturday from Etihad stadium at 3 pm.

A win next Tuesday against Porto will secure first-place for City in their Champions League group.

The kickoff from Portugal is at 8 pm. (JSL)

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