It actually appears like so much longer than a month since Pep Guardiola was lamenting the shortage of urgent up entrance from Ferran Torres as Manchester Metropolis dropped extra Premier League factors.
After a 1-1 draw at Elland Highway, approaching the again of a 5-2 hammering from Leicester, a title win appeared as unlikely as Torres main the road towards the champions.
However overlook false 9 – with a second aim in three video games within the central place, the 20-year-old arrival from Valencia has a really actual likelihood of enjoying up entrance when Liverpool come to the Etihad this Sunday.
Two early missed sighters towards Olympiacos – a stunning improvised backheel flick from a nook after which a agency header large – confirmed his means to make issues occur in entrance of aim but additionally highlighted Guardiola’s level from the weekend that this staff will not be scoring sufficient targets.
Only a minute after Kevin De Bruyne had shot weakly on the goalkeeper when put in by Riyad Mahrez following a foul error from the guests, Torres produced a aim that Sergio Aguero or Gabriel Jesus can be pleased with. Exchanging passes with the Belgian, a crisp, cushioned contact set him clear within the field and he confidently side-footed previous Jose Sa to place the Blues forward.
Metropolis’s assault had already been boosted earlier than kick-off with the presence of Jesus on the bench, in a matchday squad for the primary time because the first sport of the marketing campaign. He might but be deemed match sufficient to start out the following sport, whereas Raheem Sterling can be an possibility given the champions will possible not sit as deep as most groups do.
The performances of Torres, although, together with his aim making him the third youngest to attain in 4 consecutive Champions League video games behind Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe (not dangerous firm to maintain), imply he has gone from the wildest of wildcards to a real various as a central striker.
Apart from that, it was a case of job executed on the night time for Metropolis in a Champions League sport that will probably be shortly forgotten.
For all Guardiola insisted on the power of each opponent within the competitors, and the way he would in no way be excited about their different sport this week, the collection of Nathan Ake and John Stones on the again made it clear the supervisor, fairly appropriately, thought this was a sport he might win with out enjoying his strongest XI.
Metropolis prolonged their unbeaten run to eight video games in all competitions as they beat Olympiacos.
Metropolis have began their Champions League marketing campaign immaculately, scoring three targets in all three of their group video games, and Tuesday night time’s 3-Zero win over the Greek facet provides them most factors.
For all the most recent Metropolis information delivered straight to your inbox, together with a round-up e-newsletter the morning after the sport, signal as much as our day by day e-newsletter right here – it is free and it solely takes a number of seconds.
There was additionally room for experimentation. Not for the primary time, Metropolis’s lineup sparked confusion within the press field as what seemed to be a traditional again 4 morphed quickly right into a again three with Ilkay Gundogan supported by Aleks Zinchenko and Kyle Walker as extra inverted than ever.
It was solely ever fleeting however such consciousness and flexibility exhibits once more why Gundogan stays so extremely valued by his supervisor – even when a lot of the fanbase ranges from nonplussed to positively disgruntled after they see him beginning.
Wherever he popped up on the pitch, Gundogan was central to every thing the Blues did. In a single ear he had Guardiola chirping directions or recommendation at each alternative, and within the different there have been teammates hoping to be on the top of one in all his trademark via balls.
(Picture: Victoria Haydn/Manchester Metropolis FC through Getty Photographs)
For all of the possession and management, targets as soon as once more proved to be a battle and the longer the sport went on with no additional targets the extra an Olympiacos facet that had been there for the taking started to take encouragement. Seeing the Blues fail to string a go collectively within the second half gave them hope the place there ought to have been none and the slackness in possession started to current extra harmful alternatives; Phil Foden was lucky to not reward Mathieu Valbuena a neater likelihood when he inexplicably handed to him eight yards out.
Tensions grew within the house staff. De Bruyne bellowed a loud “Come on, man!” as Foden drifted a ball aimlessly out of play.
A double change to deliver on Gabriel Jesus and Rodri introduced some order again to the staff and Torres livened up once more as he moved out to the fitting. If Metropolis nonetheless weren’t watertight on the again, not less than they had been posing a menace once more.
That in the end proved decisive in settling the video games. Into the ultimate ten minutes, Jesus collected a ball from De Bruyne after which hammered the ball into the roof of the web from a decent angle on the fitting hand facet to lastly put Olympiacos out of their distress and provides Metropolis precisely what they needed and have wanted.
The clear sheet – and Metropolis’s improved defence in latest weeks following that early shellacking towards Leicester – ought to give them confidence as they appear to be extra steady on the again. Nathan Ake was commanding and John Stones reassuring sufficient for the Blues to safe one other shutout.
In the end although, it’s targets that deliver essentially the most safety. Following Jesus’s effort, Joao Cancelo exchanged passes with Felix Nmecha – making his Etihad debut – after which curled a low effort into the underside nook on his left foot.
The place they’d laboured for a lot of the match, two targets within the closing minutes made for a straightforward end.
Clearly it’s terrific information for his or her hopes of creating the Champions League last-16 that they’ve collected 9 factors from their opening three matches. Another win will safe qualification and that ought to be picked up of their subsequent sport if Olympiacos show as toothless as they did tonight.
Going ahead although, Guardiola has a number of choices in assault for the primary time this season. Neither is ideal with Torres comparatively new to the position and Jesus having solely performed 30 minutes of soccer since mid-September, however given the continued damage considerations it’s positively a constructive to take into their largest league sport of the marketing campaign.