Super subs Sterling, Foden see Man City pass Dinamo Zagreb test
Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP)
Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden came off the bench to score the goals as Manchester City closed in on the last 16 of the Champions League by beating Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium.
City enjoyed 71 percent possession and had 19 attempts on goal, but had to wait until 24 minutes from time to make the breakthrough when Sterling rounded off an excellent team move.
The England international then teed up Foden to secure all three points with virtually the last kick of the game as Pep Guardiola's men took a stranglehold on Group C.
The English champions have maximum points from their opening two games with back-to-back matches against bottom-of-the-group Atalanta to come.
On the eve of the game, Guardiola called on the City fans to turn up on Champions League nights if his side are to turn their domestic dominance into finally conquering Europe this season.
The Etihad was not sold out, but there were still far more in attendance than at the shock defeat to Lyon in City's first Champions League home game of last season.
Those that came never got the goalfest they came for as the hosts peppered the Croatians' goal, but unusually lacked a clinical touch to make their superiority count.
Sergio Aguero had the first chance when a slack pass back freed the Argentine on goal, but Dominik Livakovic stood up well to block as City's all-time top goalscorer tried to round him.
Bernardo Silva was recalled to the starting line-up with Kevin de Bruyne sidelined by a groin injury and Sterling rested.
The Portuguese international could be facing a lengthy domestic ban as the English Football Association investigates a tweet he posted comparing a photo of team-mate and close friend Benjamin Mendy to a black cartoon character for alleged racism.
Bernardo scored the first hat-trick of his career in City's last home game, but was wayward with two great chances on his trusted left foot before being replaced for Sterling on the hour mark.
City should still have been well ahead by then as Aguero blazed over after doing the hard work in spinning onto Mendy's through ball.
Ilkay Gundogan then smashed against the bar and David Silva side-footed wide when it seemed easier to score.
Dinamo had romped to a 4-0 victory over Atalanta on matchday one, but barely ventured over the halfway line and their brave resistence was finally ended with a wonderfully worked team goal.
Rodrigo's pass opened up the Zagreb defence and Riyad Mahrez's low cross left Sterling with the simple task of forcing the ball over the line from point blank range.
That should have alleviated City's frustrations for the night, but Guardiola was shown a yellow card by Dutch referee Serdar Gouzubuyuk and cut an increasingly annoyed figure on the touchline as the hosts saw a number of penalty claims turned away.
There was little for the Catalan coach to be concerned about, though, as City were never in danger of conceding and finally made the game safe deep into stoppage time when Sterling led a counter-attack and teed up Foden to blast into the far corner.
© 2019 AFP