Sergio Aguero was on target as Manchester City made it 16 points from a possible 18 in the Champions League group stages with a 3-0 win over Marseille.
With qualification for the last 16 and top spot in the group already secured ahead of this final Group C matchday, Pep Guardiola made nine changes from that side who beat Fulham at the weekend, but there was still plenty of firepower on show, with Riyad Mahrez going closest to scoring in an uneventful first half.
Raheem Sterling came on at the break, but it was Mahrez who was instrumental in City’s opener in the 48th minute, as his run led to Ferran Torres sneaking in, with the Spaniard firing home his fourth Champions League goal of the season.
Aguero came off the bench for his first appearance in over two weeks due to injury and scored his 257th City goal in true poacher’s style in the 77th minute, before Raheem Sterling put the icing on the cake with a third in the 90th minute to ensure City matched the record for points accrued by an English club in a single Champions League group-stage campaign, sailing through to the last-16 in emphatic fashion.
Ferran Torres celebrates scoring his team's first goal
Image credit: Getty Images
City dominated possession, as usual, in the first half, but Marseille were not overawed, creating chances themselves to test young City goalkeeper Zack Steffen, making his Champions League debut.
Former West Ham forward Dimitri Payet was at the heart of everything good about Marseille, drawing a save from Steffen in the opening 45 minutes.
Guardiola was clearly not happy with what he saw in the first half, throwing Sterling on at the break, and City looked like a different beast, with Torres taking his tally to four on the continent this season after Valere Germain had inadvertently diverted the ball into the Spaniard’s path.
There was the pleasing sight of Aguero replacing Mahrez, with the Argentine full of running before reacting fastest to Nathan Ake’s saved header to put the game to bed, before Sterling scored the easiest of thirds late on as City set that club record for points in a single group stage campaign.
TALKING POINT – Aguero back, look away now, United
He was not expected to get many minutes this evening, given his recent injury problems, but a second-half cameo was all Sergio Aguero needed to get back among the goals at the Etihad.
Oh how City have missed him, and Manchester United’s problems could be about to get a whole lot worse on Saturday in the Manchester derby.
Aguero looked sharp, with his poacher instincts clearly not deserting him. Harry Maguire won’t sleep well this evening.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Ferran Torres (Manchester City_
He has been moved from pillar to post this season by Pep Guardiola, but Ferran Torres continues to look the part in Manchester. That is 10 goals for club and country this season for the Spaniard.
Man City: Steffen 7, Walker 7, Garcia 6, Laporte 6, Ake 5, Fernandinho 6, Gundogan 7, Bernardo Silva 6, Mahrez 6, Foden 7, Torres 8... Subs: Stones 7, Sterling 8, Aguero 8.
Marseille: Mandanda 7, Sakai 6, Alvaro 6, Balerdi 6, Nagatomo 6, Kamara 7, Gueye 7, Sanson 6, Thauvin 7, Payet 7, Germain 6.... Subs: Strootman 6, Rongier 6, Cuisance 6, Benedetto 6, Ake 6.
8’ - SAVE! Well-timed through pass from Bernardo Silva into the path of Riyad Mahrez, who opens up his body, shoots across goal, but Steve Mandanda throws out a leg to make a fine save!
44’ - SAVE! Great chest control from Gueye takes him past Laporte, the angle is tight, but Seffen races out to make a fine block.
48’ - GGGGGGOOOOOOOAAAAALLLLL!!! Man City 1-0 Marseille. Torres sweeps home to give City the lead. That is five goals in the Champions League now for Torres. Mahrez carried the attack to Marseille, Germain made the tackle, but inadvertently diverted the ball into the path of Torres, who steered the ball home.
59’ - CHANCE! Foden starts the move, then arrives on the edge of the box, but elects to use the side of his boot to steer the ball home, scuffing his effort wide. Put your foot through it!
77’ - GGGGGGGGOOOOOOAAAAALLLLL!!! Man City 2-0 Marseille. Who else? Aguero with a poacher's goal to make it two. Ake got up highest to meet a corner, his header was saved, but if you let Aguero free, with a loose ball around, there is only one place it is ending up.
90’- GGGGGOOOOAAAALLLLL!!!! Man City 3-0 Marseille. Sterling puts the icing on the cake. Sterling will not many easier than that, as he hammers into the roof of the net after Marseille had made a mess of clearing Torres' low cross. Three added minutes here.
Zack Steffen is the third American goalkeeper to start a Champions League game after Tim Howard (10 games for Man Utd, 2003-05) and Ethan Horvath (four games for Club Brugge, 2018-20).
Marseille had six shots in the first half - the City have faced in in the 1st half of a CL home game since December 2018.
Ferran Torres has scored six goals in all competitions this season, no City player has scored more (level with Sterling).
Sergio Aguero has scored in three consecutive Champions League home games (four in total) for the first time since September 2014.