Xenia Sports – London
Sergio Aguero made a goalscoring return to action as Manchester City wrapped up their Champions League Group C programme with a comfortable 3-0 win over Marseille.
City’s record goalscorer came off the bench to grab his side’s second at the Etihad Stadium after Ferran Torres had continued his fine start to life at the club with the opener early in the second half.
City – already long qualified for the last 16 – grabbed a third in the final minute as Raheem Sterling beat Marseille defender Alvaro to smash in from a yard.
The victory ensured City finished the group stage with a club-best 16 points and condemned their opponents to bottom spot, missing out on a Europa League consolation place.
The return of Aguero, after three games out with a knee problem and for only his fifth appearance of the season, will also be hugely encouraging ahead of this weekend’s derby against Manchester United.
City made nine changes from the side which beat Fulham last weekend but were fluent throughout and started at a decent tempo.
They had a good early chance as Aymeric Laporte, making his first start in five games, headed over from an Ilkay Gundogan free-kick and Phil Foden blasted over.
City, however, was forced into a change just before the half-hour as Eric Garcia went off injured and was replaced by John Stones.
Riyad Mahrez drove narrowly wide after another slick City attack but Marseille began to threaten in the latter stages of the first half.
Former West Ham forward Dimitri Payet had a goal disallowed for offside and then cheekily attempted to catch out City’s number two goalkeeper Zack Steffen from distance. Stones needed to intervene to cut out a dangerous Florian Thauvin cross and Morgan Sanson sent an effort just wide before Steffen saved from Pape Gueye.
City stepped it up after the break and took the lead within three minutes of the restart following a fine team move.
Stones played a fine ball forward from deep and Bernardo Silva found Mahrez out wide. The Algerian then cut inside and fed Torres inside the box. The Spaniard timed his run superbly and finished tidily for his sixth goal of the season and fourth in the Champions League.
That all but ended the game as a contest but City continued to probe and introduced Aguero to the attack in place of Mahrez in the 67th minute.
The Argentinian made an instant impact as he snaffled a rebound to score from close range after Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda parried a powerful header from Nathan Ake.
Sterling also made a late entrance and got on the scoresheet after a defensive mix-up in the last minute. Alvaro tried to clear off the line but Sterling got ahead of him to fire home at point-blank range.