Marseille 0-3 Manchester City: Pep Guardiola's men cruise to victory

Marseille 0-3 Manchester City: Pep Guardiola’s men cruise to victory against under-par French outfit with Raheem Sterling, Ilkay Gundogan and Ferran Torres among the goals as Kevin de Bruyne sparkles on his return to the side

  • Man City secured a comfortable victory over Ligue 1 outfit Marseille to continue their superb start in Europe  
  • The visitors broke the deadlock in the first half as new signing Ferran Torres tapped home inside the area 
  • Pep Guardiola’s men struck the woodwork through Oleksandr Zinchenko as they edged close to a second
  • Ilkay Gundogan pounced on Raheem Sterling’s knockdown to make it two after great work by Phil Foden 
  • Sterling grabbed a third for the rampant visiting side as City maintained their 100 per cent record 

There were 14 minutes remaining when Phil Foden dropped a shoulder and sped down the left. He struck a deep cross which Raheem Sterling header back across goal. And there was Ilkay Gundogan to make Manchester City safe.

If they had scored another ten like it, that would have reflected the gulf between these sides.

It is encounters like this that makes some think the Champions League needs reform. The problem is, most of the proposals involve setting up even more matches like this – but that’s an argument for another day.

Manchester City maintained their 100 per cent start to life in the Champions League with a confident 3-0 win over Marseille

The visitors were the better side from the first whistle and hardly broke out of third gear in a rampant display in France 

One team with little ambition, another forced to cut through a barely-penetrable forest of obstacles in search of a goal. The best team won, the dull team lost, so all ended happily. But it was a match only partisan observers could love. Another mismatch, sadly, although much of that was down to Marseille coach Andre Villas-Boas. He appeared to be playing another Manchester City. One that hadn’t been beaten 5-2 at home by Leicester and made a stuttering start to the season.

Villas-Boas left out some of the creative players that had got Marseille into this position in the first place, Dimitri Payet and Morgan Sanson, and got exactly what he deserved. An embarrassing scoreline, given the paucity of Marseille’s ambition. The last time Marseille were in this competition, six years ago, they lost every group game – and they are on their way to repeating that distinction already with back to back defeats. When the second went in, 2-0 down with 12 minutes to go, Villas-Boas finally brought Payet on. It was a pathetic show.

Delightful, then, that Manchester City should emphasise the truth of this 90 minutes with a third. Riyad Mahrez slipped the ball to Kevin De Bruyne, whose cross picked out Sterling for a tap-in. It looked easy. By then, it was. Getting there, however, required real effort. 

Manchester City’s new signing Ferran Torres got the team up and running as he tapped home after Kevin de Bruyne’s cross

Torres is embraced by his team-mates after breaking the deadlock in France as he celebrates his second goal for the club 

Ilkay Gundogan was on hand to thump home the second goal thanks to great work by Phil Foden on the left hand side 

The former Borussia Dortmund midfielder wheels away after securing the team’s vital two-goal cushion in Marseille 

It is not straightforward, hacking their way through 11 white shirts, sitting deep and primed only to frustrate. Maybe Villas-Boas thought City would run out of legs. Marseille needed to keep a clean sheet for longer than 18 minutes, then. The moment they needed to chase the game – and it was a pretty half-hearted attempt – Marseille looked vulnerable. Might they have given City a game? We will never know.

For City, this was arguably their best performance of the season. They had all the possession, but not the chances their superiority deserved. Villas-Boas may take pride in that. It can hardly be called a fruitful plan, however, when three goals separate the sides. City have not been as prolific in the Premier League season, but their European form is impressive: two wins and six goals. That’s more like it. 

It is an irony that had Dimitri Payet actually stayed at West Ham he might have been given the chance to start a game against Manchester City this season. As it was Andre Villas-Boas left out Marseille’s most gifted player, and the first half proceeded as one might expect.

Sterling added a third to put gloss on an impressive attacking display from Pep Guardiola’s side against a difficult opponent 

Attack versus defence. One team with 11 men behind the ball, the other relentlessly probing and passing, dominating possession and the game. Marseille were as desperately disappointing as Paris St Germain had been to another Manchester side seven days previously. 

We thought PSG were going to be a match for Manchester United and were desperately let down; we expected Marseille to show at least a little ambition at home and were equally underwhelmed. The team sheet suggested Villas-Boas’s caution and the action confirmed it. Marseille had one shot of note across the opening 45 minutes, a tame effort from distance which Ederson gathered safely with the minimum of fuss.

That was hardly the modus operandi at the opposite end. Marseille defended stoutly and with massed ranks swarming around City’s players, but occasionally panic set in when the strain of it all showed. Such an event led to the opening goal after 18 minutes.

MATCH FACTS 

MARSEILLE: Mandanda, Sakai, Balerdi, Alvaro, Caleta-Car, Amavi, Rongier (Isimat-Mirin 64), Kamara, Cuisance (Gueye 85), Thauvin (Payet 78), Radonjic (Benedetto 78).

Subs: Ngapandouetnbu, Strootman, Sanson, Benedetto, Payet, Luis Henrique, Pele, Gueye, Ake, Nagatomo, Germain. 

Booked: Caleta-Car, Amavi

MANCHESTER CITY: Ederson, Walker, Dias, Laporte (Stones 77), Zinchenko (Cancelo 68), De Bruyne (Palmer 82), Rodri, Gundogan (Silva 78), Foden, Sterling, Torres (Mahrez 77).

Subs: Stones, Steffen, Bernardo Silva, Mahrez, Joao Cancelo, Carson, Garcia, Nmecha, Doyle, Harwood-Bellis, Palmer, Bernabe.

Goals: F Torres 18, Gundogan 76, Sterling 81

Booked: Laporte

Andre Villas-Boas’ Ligue 1 side were hardly in the game and posed little threat to the Premier League outfit on the night 

Midfielder Phil Foden attempts to build on an impressive outing at West Ham by showing his quality against the French side

Man City defender Aymeric Laporte puts in a strong challenge on Marseille’s Leonardo Balerdi as City try to keep their lead

Amidst some frantic mopping up, Valentin Rongier attempted a pass out to the full-back position. It was poorly targeted and fell instead to Kevin De Bruyne. Could there have been a worse opponent to hit? The answer came swiftly as De Bruyne responded by whipping in pass which Ferran Torres, appointed false nine for the night in the absence of several strikers, tapped past goalkeeper Steve Mandanda. 

It was his second goal of this Champions League campaign, in his second European appearance. The last Manchester City player to score in his first two games in this tournament was Mario Balotelli. Torres resisted the temptation to ask the obvious question.

Why always him? Perhaps because the way Marseille were set up anyone in Manchester City’s front-line was likely to see plenty of the ball around the goal. Just two minutes had gone when a De Bruyne volley was deflected over. From the resulting De Bruyne header, Ruben Dias steered a header over.

Kevin De Bruyne goes into a duel with former Aston Villa left-back Jordan Amavi in the Champions League group-stage clash 

England international Raheem Sterling proved to be a menace for Marseille defenders in the first half with his quick feet 

The pressure was relentless but it was hard to get near to goal through the massed ranks of white shirts. ‘Rapido, rapido,’ ordered Pep Guardiola, an instruction that needs little translation. In their defence, his players were going as rapido as they could. In the 14th minute, Phil Foden forced a save from Mandanda, after a lovely chipped pass by Ilkay Gundogan. Then it was a terrible piece of control from Leonardo Belardi that allowed Torres to set up Oleksandr Zinchenko, who shot was driven just wide of the far post.

The half ended with City closing on 70 per cent of possession. Sometimes such a statistic can be misleading but, in this case, it seemed to do Guardiola’s men a disservice. One map of player positions, taken after 30 minutes, showed City’s deepest outfield player to be Aymeric Laporte, his average position being the halfway line. Every Marseille player took up an average berth in their own half. There are training exercises less regimented.

Given that not so long ago a French team, Lyon, had eliminated Manchester City from this competition, one wondered what might have been achieved with greater ambition from Marseille. Stepping up the pace slightly in the second-half, Florian Thauvin forced a minor mistake from Ederson. What might Payet have done, from the start? 

The first half was a dominant one for the Sky Blues with midfielder Rodri helping to dictate things in the middle of the park

The returning Kevin de Bruyne looks to build some momentum for Manchester City in midfield early in the game at Marseille

Marseille defender Hiroki Sakai tries to thwart the marauding Oleksandr Zinchenko as the home side aim to stop City’s rhythm

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola stands alongside ex-Chelsea and Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas as he barks instructions






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