Match ends, Manchester City 1, Feyenoord 0.
Manchester City 1-0 Feyenoord
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says it does not matter who his side face in the last 16 of the Champions League after they sealed top spot in Group F with a narrow victory over Dutch champions Feyenoord.
Raheem Sterling scored the only goal of a subdued game in the 88th minute, firing home following a neat one-two with Ilkay Gundogan, to ensure their progress with a group game to play, away at second-placed Shakhtar Donetsk.
In the first knockout round they could face either holders Real Madrid or last season's runners-up Juventus, while five-time European champions Bayern Munich are second in Group B as things stand and are another potential opponent.
"We play to win the games and after that we will see how things finish," Guardiola said.
"It is important that City have got 15 points at this stage for the first time and we are going to go now to Shakhtar to try to finish well and to try to go and win the game.
"In the last 16, it doesn't matter which one [you get], it always will be complicated."
- Relive Tuesday's Champions League matches
- Football daily podcast - analysis of Tuesday's Champions League action
|Pep's managerial records after 75 games|
|Man City (2016-Present)||75||50||15||10||177||71||66.67|
|Bayern Munich (2013-16)||75||59||9||7||199||52||78.67|
Having beaten Giovanni van Bronckhorst's team 4-0 in Rotterdam, the expectations were that City would win handsomely, but having made seven changes they were not at their fluent best against better organised opponents.
With Sergio Aguero having missed a number of chances and Yaya Toure firing a free-kick just wide, it looked like the game was heading for a goalless draw until Sterling broke through the visitors' defence and finished neatly.
It preserves City's 100% record after five matches of this season's Champions League, extends their unbeaten start to the overall campaign to 19 games and gives Guardiola his 50th win as City boss, in just his 75th game.
City could also have been looking at a first defeat of the season had Sam Larsson and Steven Berghuis shown greater composure in front of goal, the latter striking the bar with a rising shot from close range in the second half.
With Napoli beating second-placed Shakhtar 3-0, City can travel to Ukraine on 6 December knowing even a defeat cannot deny them a last-16 tie in which they play the home leg second.
Tuesday's result also allows Guardiola to rest players for a game that immediately precedes the Premier League leaders' trip to second-placed Manchester United.
They will definitely be without influential midfielder Kevin de Bruyne for the final group game after the Belgian picked up his second yellow card of this season's competition to incur a one-game suspension.
This may well offer an opportunity for one of the stars of England's Under-17 World Cup-winning side, Phil Foden.
The midfielder made his debut for the final 15 minutes of Tuesday's game as a replacement for Toure, who at 34 is twice the age of the player dubbed 'the Stockport Iniesta'.
There was also a second City appearance for 18-year-old Spanish midfielder Brahim Diaz, who replaced the goalscorer in injury time.
Sterling ensures a comfortable group finale
Sterling's goal was a welcome but somewhat redundant final flourish from City on a night where numerous changes and rare off-colour performances led to a much more low-key display than those to which Etihad regulars have become accustomed.
Goals from Lorenzo Insigne, Piotr Zielinski and Dries Mertens in Naples had already assured City of top spot, even with a point.
But Guardiola sets high standards and his growing frustration was clear to see as City passes went astray and shots flew wide.
Aguero, one of the seven changes, was culpable, putting a shot and header off target in the first half before seeing a close-range effort blocked after he broke the offside trap to collect a ball over the top.
Bernardo Silva should also have done better when he was found in the box by Sterling but tamely shot straight at the Feyenoord keeper, former Middlesbrough and Liverpool player Brad Jones.
But with the rapid and now ruthless Sterling on the pitch, City have a weapon to tear through any defence.
His run was timed perfectly, Gundogan's pass equally so, and the lifted finish over the onrushing keeper into the far corner judged perfectly.
Feyenoord boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst said: "I am very proud. The performance was very good. We played a lot better if you compare it to the first game and you see the home games of City against other teams.
"I think today we showed we are developing as a team especially in the Champions League. For me, to concede a goal in the 88th minute was a bit harsh - I think we deserved more today. We played a good game and could have scored as well before we went 1-0 down.
"Overall, I am very proud of the way we performed and the way we represented our club. It is good that we can play one of the best teams on the globe and make things difficult for them."
Mangala back in the spotlight
The growing consensus, both at home and abroad, is that this is a City side largely devoid of weakness. Their 2-0 win at Leicester on Saturday prompted Foxes boss Claude Puel to join Napoli's Maurizio Sarri in the opinion that Guardiola's team are the best in Europe.
Meanwhile, BBC pundits Martin Keown and Garth Crooks were waxing lyrical about them in the Final Score studio, with both saying they can match Arsenal's Invincibles team of 2003-04 by going the whole league season unbeaten.
However, one potential chink in their armour could be exposed through the loss of defender John Stones to an injury that will potentially sideline him for the 12 games City play over the next six weeks.
The loss of a player who has shone this season, both in his defensive work and distribution, leaves City with three fit centre-backs.
One of those - Vincent Kompany - was understandably rested on Tuesday having only just returned from the latest in a long run of injuries, leaving Nicolas Otamendi to be partnered by the much-maligned Eliaquim Mangala, a man City were keen to move on in last transfer window.
The Frenchman did all that was asked of him, making four clearances and three interceptions to help preserve a clean sheet that could easily have been lost but for the away side snatching at the opportunities afforded them.
Foden gives a glimpse of the future
Heralded as one of England's most talented young footballers, much is expected of 17-year-old Foden.
He was named player of the tournament as England won the Under-17 World Cup in India this summer, scoring one of his country's five goals in the final.
A natural number 10, it just remained to be seen if and when Guardiola would give the player his chance at a club that has not afforded many to their own young academy products in the recent past.
He only had time to make 19 passes during his brief cameo but he completed all but one of them.
He now just has to work out how to force his way past the likes of David Silva, Bernardo Silva and Kevin de Bruyne and into City's star-studded attacking midfield.
There was encouragement afterwards from his boss.
"Hopefully they [Foden and Diaz] will keep growing," said Guardiola. "They are still young. We do not need to speed up the process of growing, just to stay calm.
"Today has been their first Champions League game and we will see as we go along - they will keep training with us, they will keep playing. I will put them on the pitch and we will see in the future.
"They are young talents, only 17-18, but our squad is not too big, and we will see what happens in the next games but hopefully they will stay for a long time and help us to do well at the club.
"I am the one who puts them on the field but the guys who deserve the credit are the guys who work with them for the last few years - all the managers and team-mates who have played with them, they are responsible, the reason why they made their first appearance."
Man of the match - Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
Five in a row for the first time - the stats you need to know
- Manchester City have won five successive Champions League games for the first time.
- Manchester City have now scored in 23 of their last 24 competitive fixtures - the only time that they did not score in this run was against a Championship side (Wolves in the Carabao Cup).
- This was Pep Guardiola's 50th win as Manchester City manager, in what was his 75th game in charge of the club (W50 D15 L10). It took him 71 games to reach this landmark at Barcelona and just 65 games at Bayern Munich.
- Phil Foden became the fourth youngest English player to make an appearance in the Champions League (17 years 177 days). Only Jack Wilshere, Dominic Solanke and Ainsley Maitland-Niles have been younger on their debut in the competition.
- Raheem Sterling has now scored in four successive Champions League appearances for Manchester City.
- 15MangalaBooked at 59mins
- 3DaniloBooked at 86mins
- 17De BruyneBooked at 60minsSubstituted forGabriel Jesusat 64'minutes
- 42Y TouréSubstituted forFodenat 75'minutes
- 20Bernardo Silva
- 7SterlingSubstituted forDiazat 90+1'minutes
- 33Gabriel Jesus
- 25JonesBooked at 73mins
- 17DiksSubstituted forNieuwkoopat 72'minutes
- 3van Beek
- 21S Amrabat
- 28ToornstraBooked at 79mins
- 10VilhenaBooked at 56mins
- 19BerghuisSubstituted forBasacikogluat 82'minutes
- 7BoëtiusSubstituted forN Jørgensenat 69'minutes
- 4St. Juste
- 9N Jørgensen
- Ivan Kruzliak
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Manchester City 1, Feyenoord 0.
Brahim Diaz (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Sofyan Amrabat (Feyenoord).
Corner, Feyenoord. Conceded by Danilo.
Substitution, Manchester City. Brahim Diaz replaces Raheem Sterling.
Goal! Manchester City 1, Feyenoord 0. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) right footed shot from the right side of the box to the high centre of the goal. Assisted by Ilkay Gündogan with a through ball.
Danilo (Manchester City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Danilo (Manchester City).
Bilal Basacikoglu (Feyenoord) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Bart Nieuwkoop.
Attempt missed. Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Bernardo Silva with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Tonny Vilhena.
Substitution, Feyenoord. Bilal Basacikoglu replaces Steven Berghuis.
Jens Toornstra (Feyenoord) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Phil Foden (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jens Toornstra (Feyenoord).
Foul by Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City).
Bart Nieuwkoop (Feyenoord) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Nicolás Otamendi (Manchester City) wins a free kick on the right wing.