Manchester City were able to get a comprehensive 3-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League and this helped the team bounce back from a potential injury crisis and the defeat against Norwich. Guardiola was able to breathe a sigh of relief from his team, which had to undergo some makeshift changes in order to compensate for the lack of some key players.
Guardiola could not have asked for a perfect start after watching his team get a lead in the 24th minute through Riyad Mahrez. The former Leicester City winger received a slice of luck when Gundogan’s shot came back off the woodwork just onto his feet. Just 14 minutes later, the Algerian turned into the provider as his excellent run helped open up space for Gundogan. City were in complete control of the game by this stage. Players like Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling were receiving plenty of opportunities in front of goal.
City received a major let-off when Júnior Moraes failed to make contact with a through ball just before half time. It would have put him clear on goal and gave a different picture to the game with a 2-1 score at half-time. However, it was not to be and Shakhtar never recovered to create any meaningful opportunity in the game. The Ukrainian outfit only had one shot on target in the entire game.
The lack of clinical finishing was turning out to be a problem for City, who could have come up with an even greater number of goals if there was some consciousness towards finishing off opportunities.
Thankfully, City were not made to pay for those mistakes and the gaps opened up in large wide spaces especially in the second half. The finishing touch to the game was applied by Gabriel Jesus in the 76th minute when he was put through on goal by De Bruyne. The Brazilian made no mistake as he made the most of his first-team opportunity by scoring his second goal of the campaign.
The victory is rather crucial for City whose group stage looks relatively easy compared to rivals like Real Madrid and Juventus. Yet, this could prove to be City’s Achilles heel – just as seen in the manner of the loss against Norwich. After a string of victories, City do tend to take things casual against lesser opposition from time to time. The perfect start to the group stages is rather important for Guardiola’s men, who need to qualify as soon as possible in order to shift the focus back to the Premier League, where the team already trails Liverpool by five points.
Fernandinho once again displayed his versatility in this team by playing at centre back. The injury to Jones Stones, which is likely to keep the defender out for around five weeks, resulted in the Brazilian being used in an unnatural position. Yet, the 34-year-old came out with flying colours and he helped City register only the second clean sheet in the last five games.