MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM (AFP) – Sergio Aguero scored on his return from injury as a heavily-rotated Manchester City comfortably saw off Marseille 3-0 to end the French side’s hopes of dropping into the Europa League.
City had already secured top spot in Champions League Group C and Pep Guardiola took the chance to hand a number of his key players a rest ahead of their trip to Manchester United in the Premier League.
But City’s reserves were still far too strong for Marseille, who slipped to a 14th defeat in their last 15 Champions League games, and missed out on the chance to leapfrog Olympiakos into third place in the group.
Guardiola made nine changes from the side that beat Fulham 2-0, including a Champions League debut for American goalkeeper Zack Steffen.
However, Steffen was rarely troubled as City recorded a fifth consecutive clean sheet.
Steve Mandanda kept the visitors in the game before the break as the veteran goalkeeper made a brilliant save from Riyad Mahrez, while Aymeric Laporte headed over.
Dimitri Payet did have the ball in the net at the other end, but the former West Ham midfielder was well offside before slotting past Steffen.
City finally made the breakthrough three minutes after half-time when Ferran Torres pounced after Valere Germain inadvertently played in the Spanish international as he tried to tackle Mahrez inside the box. Uncharacteristically for a Guardiola side, City have struggled to score goals, particularly in the Premier League so far this season.
Aguero’s predatory instincts have been sorely missed as he had featured in just four games in between two lengthy injury spells prior to the match. The Argentine was introduced midway through the second half and took just 10 minutes to show why he is City’s all-time leading scorer with a poacher’s finish to prod home the rebound after Mandanda had saved Nathan Ake’s powerful header.
Raheem Sterling netted his first goal in seven games at the weekend and the England international got another confidence boost when he tapped home the third in stoppage time to round off a dominant performance.