Masterly De Bruyne inspires City past tame Marseille
Manchester City made it two wins from two in their latest bid for Champions League glory as Kevin De Bruyne starred in a straightforward 3-0 win at Marseille on Tuesday.
The English side, who have never reached the semi-finals under Pep Guardiola, sit top of the early Group C table after their opening victory at Porto last week.
The City boss said that his side have to accept recent criticism after only winning two of their five Premier League matches so far this season, but that he was confident they can put together a strong run after their performance at the Stade Velodrome.
“Part of the criticism was right, but you’ve got to accept it. It’s part of our job,” Guardiola told BT Sport.
“It’s about where we’ve come from in the last month, with lack of preparation, injuries and Covid-19, but the Champions League is in a good place now.
“I’m sure we’re going to find that consistency… I’m so satisfied with the way we played.”
With De Bruyne running the show in midfield on his first start since returning from injury, City cruised past a largely ineffective Marseille.
Andre-Villas Boas’s men, playing in their first Champions League campaign since 2013, are rooted to the foot of the group after back-to-back defeats.
The former Chelsea and Tottenham coach cut an agitated figure in his post-match press conference, hitting out at journalists who criticised his decision to start with five defenders.
“Lorient (who Marseille beat on Saturday) and City are not the same thing,” he said. “You are starting to criticise all the choices I make.
“City is City spent over a billion (euros) over years to build this team. They have a coach who is a phenomenon…
“Unfortunately, Marseille have no money to bring in Guardiola. Unfortunately, you have AVB and his tactics.”
Porto sit second behind City after a 2-0 win over Olympiakos in Group C’s other match on Tuesday and host Marseille next week.
“It’s another level, you have to be honest,” Marseille winger Florian Thauvin told RMC Sport.
“We have to learn from these matches, we have to improve.
“The Porto match is a last-chance match. We have to do better, it’s the Champions League. It’s been seven years since we took part, we must all learn together.”
City started with Ferran Torres up front in the absence of injured duo Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus.
The visitors dominated the early stages without creating many clear-cut chances, but were handed the opening goal in the 18th minute.
Marseille midfielder Valentin Rongier’s dreadful pass put De Bruyne in the clear, and the Belgian squared for Torres to slot in his third City goal since signing from Valencia.
City appeared likely to win without any help from their opponents, but Marseille defender Leonardo Balerdi contrived to lose the ball inside his own area and was fortunate to see Oleksandr Zinchenko’s effort clip the base of the post.
The home side were much improved after the interval, though, and City goalkeeper Ederson was lucky to fumble a long-range strike from Thauvin onto his post and behind.
But any hopes of a push for a late OM equaliser were put to bed 14 minutes from time.
Phil Foden stood a high ball up to the back post which Raheem Sterling nodded down for Ilkay Gundogan to score.
It was not long before De Bruyne collected his second assist of the game, as his low pass was tapped home by Sterling.