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Manchester City vs FC Porto. UEFA Champions League Group C.

Etihad Stadium.

Manchester City 3

  • S Agüero (20th minute pen)
  • I Gündogan (65th minute)
  • F Torres (73rd minute)

FC Porto 1

  • L Díaz (14th minute)

Manchester City 3-1 Porto: Pep Guardiola's side start Champions League campaign with win

Pep Guardiola's men fall behind to fine Luis Díaz goal; but Sergio Aguero, Ilkay Gundogan and Ferran Torres fire them to victory; Fernandinho facing 4-6 weeks out with injury

Manchester City players celebrate Ilkay Gundogan's goal against Porto
Image: Manchester City players celebrate Ilkay Gundogan's goal against Porto

Manchester City survived an early scare in their opening Champions League encounter, coming from behind to beat Porto 3-1 in Group C.

The Champions League has proven a frustrating competition for Pep Guardiola, bowing out at the quarter-final stage for three consecutive seasons and his side fell behind when Luis Díaz netted a fine individual effort (14).

City responded to the early setback within a few minutes when Sergio Aguero scored his first goal in 231 days when converting from the penalty spot (21) after Pepe fouled Raheem Sterling.

The usual slickness associated with Guardiola's side wasn't there for the majority of the performance but a sublime free-kick from Ilkay Gundogan (65) and fine finish from substitute Ferran Torres (70) saw off the Portuguese champions, who have yet to win a match on English soil in 20 attempts.

It wasn't an entirely positive night for Guardiola though as Fernandinho is now facing four to six weeks out of action after suffering a leg injury in stoppage time.

Player Ratings

Man City: Ederson (6), Walker (6), Dias (5), Garcia (5), Cancelo (6), Gundogan (7), Rodrigo (7), Mahrez (6), Bernardo (6), Sterling (6), Aguero (6)

Subs: Torres (7), Foden (7)

Porto: Marchesin (6), Sarr (6), Mbemba (6), Pepe (6), Sanusi (6), Sergio Oliveira (6), Fabio Vieira (6), Uribe (6), Corona (6), Marega (6), Luis Diaz (7)

Subs: Manafa (6), Nakajima (6), Nanu (6), Taremi (6)

Man of the match: Ilkay Gundogan

How City found a way despite lacking fluidity…

With Kevin De Bruyne, Gabriel Jesus, Aymeric Laporte and Benjamin Mendy all sidelined, Guardiola made two changes from the win over Arsenal with Eric Garcia getting a surprising start at centre-back despite almost leaving on Deadline Day. He replaced Nathan Ake, who was missing with a groin problem.

Porto hardly had a touch of the ball in the opening 10 minutes but found themselves in front when Ruben Dias made a poor pass out from the back which was seized upon by Diaz. The City defence was unable to get close to him as he cut in from the left and the Colombian took full advantage, firing a quality effort into the far corner.

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Falling behind increased the intensity within the City ranks and they levelled quickly when Gundogan's run caused some last ditch defending from Porto. The German's shot struck the post but Pepe charged into Sterling as he chased the rebound, and referee Andris Treimanis pointed to the spot.

There was a long wait as VAR checked for a foul by Gundogan on the goalkeeper, who received treatment, before Aguero eventually beat him from the spot.

That was to be City's only real chance of the first half with Porto looking very sharp on the break.

Ederson fell asleep just after the half hour, making a terrible pass towards Rodri which allowed Mateus Uribe a sight of goal but he blazed wildly over the crossbar.

Kyle Walker then had to be alert to scramble a rushed Joao Cancelo clearance off City's goalline after Moussa Marega made a mockery of the City offside trap.

An improvement was required in City's tempo in the second period and Gundogan set the tone with a first-time shot that turned away by Agustin Marchesin.

Despite the City press forcing Porto deeper, a goal didn't look forthcoming until a moment of brilliance from Gundogan. The German was fouled on the edge of the area, and picked himself up to bend the resulting free-kick into the net.

It was Gundogan's final contribution before he and Aguero were replaced by Phil Foden and Torres.

The substitutes combined to add a third for City, with Foden making a big impact on the game. Torres played a clever one-two with the midfielder and the Spaniard marked his first Champions League appearance with an elite finish into the top corner.

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Man of the match: Ilkay Gundogan

Star man: Ilkay Gundogan
Image: Star man: Ilkay Gundogan

On a night where City struggled to create clear openings up against a well-drilled defence, they resorted to set-pieces in order to make their mark. With the game at 1-1 and well poised, Gundogan took the bull by the horns and delivered the game-changing moment from 22 yards. It capped a solid performance in the engine room from the German on a night where most of his teammates were well below their best.

Analysis: Creativity was lacking

Shaun Goater speaking on Sky Sports News:

"Porto were in the game for the best part of 60 minutes. From City's point of view, it was tough; I struggled to see where the creativity was going to come from. Gundogan's free-kick allowed the players to have a bit more freedom and spirit but Torres coming on, along with Foden, gave City a bit more pace. That made the difference for City but I still think it's a worry for Pep when teams play 3-5-2 against them."

What the manager said

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola: "We knew how tough it would be because Porto, alongside Benfica, is the best team in Portugal. They have a winning mentality and have to win every game. I was surprised a little bit that they played so defensively, five at the back. We struggled in the beginning and we had to be patient. We didn't lose patience like we did against Leicester, they played the same shape. Yeah, after the goal from Sergio [Aguero] we played really well. We didn't concede counter attacks, we didn't concede set pieces, we didn't allow them to run and we didn't lose the ball in positions that were dangerous. Yeah, we did it and a good start for us, really good."

Opta stats

  • Guardiola has overseen 76 UEFA Champions League victories since his very first game as a manager in September 2008, at least 19 more wins than his closest rival, Jose Mourinho (57).
  • Both teams have scored in each of Manchester City's last eight UEFA Champions League fixtures, with the Citizens now on their longest wait for a clean sheet in the competition since between February 2015 & February 2016 (9 matches).
  • Sterling has won 20 penalties for Manchester City since Pep Guardiola first took charge of the club in August 2016, at least eight more than any other Premier League player over this period.
  • Porto defender Pepe (5) has conceded more Champions League penalties than any other player since the beginning of the 2003-04 campaign.
  • Foden has been directly involved in six goals in his last seven Champions League appearances for Manchester City (three goals & three assists), this despite being a substitute in four of those games.

What's next?

City are back in action on Saturday lunchtime with a trip to West Ham in the Premier League before travelling to play Marseille in their second Champions League group game on the following Tuesday.

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