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Phil Foden fires Manchester City into Champions League knockout stages

Phil Foden scored the only goal as Manchester City secured their place in the Champions League knockout stages yet again with a 1-0 victory over Olympiacos in Greece.

The 20-year-old turned home from a Raheem Sterling flick in the 36th minute as City maintained their 100 percent record in Group C and reached the last 16 with two matches to spare.

The Greek champions were stubborn opponents at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus but City, who created a number of clear-cut opportunities, were never in danger of slipping up.

Manager Pep Guardiola may be frustrated that more chances were not taken but, after a difficult start in the Premier League, progress in Europe with minimal fuss is a major objective achieved.

It is the eighth successive year City have reached the knockout phase and, having voiced concerns about the intensity of this season’s schedule, Guardiola will be pleased to have done so while resting Kevin De Bruyne and Kyle Walker.

Aymeric Laporte, Ferran Torres, and Riyad Mahrez also dropped to the bench as the City boss made five changes.

With Foden and Sterling among those to come in, the team was hardly weakened.

They also had the firepower in reserve with Sergio Aguero, fit again after a hamstring injury, among the substitutes and the Argentinian was given a late run-out as he stepped up his recovery.

City ended with just the one goal to show for their efforts but they were too good for an Olympiacos side without a number of key players themselves.

Former France midfielder Mathieu Valbuena and forward Youssef El-Arabi, who proved a handful when the sides met at the Etihad Stadium earlier this month, were among their absentees.

City started confidently and Foden tested Jose Sa in the early stages and Gabriel Jesus also headed at the Olympiacos goalkeeper.

Yet the Greeks were well organized and resilient and City needed to work hard to create further chances.

Jesus was denied again by Sa but it took a well-worked move for City to breakthrough after 36 minutes. Ilkay Gundogan opened up the defense and Jesus played Sterling into the area.

England forward then showed great awareness as he picked out Foden in front of goal with a clever back-heel.

Foden, in fine goalscoring form after striking twice for England against Iceland last week, made no mistake with a powerful low drive.

Sterling threatened again before the break but Sa parried a long-range drive and then palmed over a free-kick.

Foden then pounced on a defensive lapse early in the second half but Ruben Semedo blocked his shot and Gundogan put the rebound wide. Joao Cancelo and Bernardo Silva also had efforts kept out by Sa before Foden headed wide.

Aguero came on in the latter stages and City eased to the final whistle.

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