SAN FRANCISCO, November 26, (THEWILL) – English Premier League side Manchester City booked a last-16 spot for themselves in the UEFA Champions League even as they failed to turn their total dominance into more than a 1-0 win over Olympiacos.
Although Pep Guardiola’s side controlled proceedings in Wednesday’s Group C clash in Athens, they had only one goal to show for it. Phil Foden, who impressed for England during the recent international break, gave the visitors a first-half lead that never came under threat from the toothless hosts.
A combination of wasteful finishing and beautiful goalkeeping frustrated Guardiola’s charges. Yet, City, who scored nine goals across their opening three group games, were quickly on the front foot. The impressive Foden stung the palms of goalkeeper Jose Sa with a low drive. The goalkeeper was also quick to stop a Gabriel Jesus header.
Jesus came closest to undoing the deadlock at the half-hour mark, when he raced in behind the defence before seeing his shot blocked away by the resolute Sa.
It was in the 38th minute that Foden converted a Raheem Sterling’s back-heeled assist after slick play by the visitors left Olympiacos chasing shadows.
The overworked Sa scrambled across his line to repel a dipping Sterling free-kick in first-half stoppage time to keep the score respectable. City still could not find a second after the interval as Ilkay Gundogan’s effort flashed wide and Joao Cancelo’s flick was well saved.
The Greek hosts were simply unable to apply any telling pressure. It took 88 minutes for them to register their first shot on target. City comfortably coasted to a win made all the better when Sergio Aguero was introduced late from the bench after being sidelined by injury.
Next for City is a visit by Burnley on Saturday this weekend, while Olympiacos go for a top-of-the-table clash at Aris Thessaloniki FC on the same day.