Manchester City 2-0 Dinamo Zagreb: Raheem Sterling & Phil Foden score

Raheem Sterling came off the bench to provide the spark Manchester City had been waiting for as they saw off a stubborn Dinamo Zagreb side to go top of Champions League Group C.

Sterling swept home City’s first goal from a Riyad Mahrez cross midway through the second half, then helped his side wrap up the points when he set up fellow substitute Phil Foden in stoppage time.

In truth, this should have been a much bigger victory, with City wasting a host of first-half chances, but in the end they were grateful to Sterling for making the difference.

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Until Sterling broke the deadlock from close range with his ninth goal of the season, it had been an unexpectedly frustrating night for Pep Guardiola’s side, despite enjoying more than 80% of possession.

It was not the case that City struggled to create chances in the absence of the injured Kevin de Bruyne, but they were unable to take them until the second half.

Sergio Aguero was the first to waste an opportunity, with the Argentine rounding Zagreb keeper Dominik Livakovic from a poor backpass but seeing him recover with a diving save.

Bernardo Silva was also off target from two good openings and Aguero skied another effort before Ilkay Gundogan blasted a shot against the bar and David Silva fired wide from close range.

When Aguero did finally get the ball in the net, Dutch referee Serdar Gozubuyuk had already blown his whistle for a handball by Bernardo Silva.

The second half saw Croatian champions Dinamo, who were roared on by their fans throughout, put up more resistance before Sterling replaced Bernardo Silva, and quickly gave City their breakthrough.

More chances followed but it fell to Foden to finish off Zagreb with a fine first-time strike from a swift counter-attack.

It gives City their second successive Group C win and leaves them well placed to make the last 16 for a seventh successive season, while Zagreb have now suffered 13 away group game defeats in a row – a Champions League record.

De Bruyne injury another blow to City

It is still unclear how long De Bruyne’s groin problem will rule him out for, but any prolonged absence will be a major blow to City, who are already missing their best centre-half in Aymeric Laporte.

De Bruyne missed most of last season through injury and, while City’s domestic Treble clearly showed they were able to cope, his nine assists this season have been a timely reminder of his talents.

Without him, City’s midfield was still able to carve Dinamo open easily enough before the break, but you felt they missed the brilliant Belgian more when the away side dug in after the break.

Although City tried to replicate De Bruyne’s dangerous balls into the box, notably through Benjamin Mendy on the left, they were far less effective.

With Mahrez notably quieter than he was against Everton in the Premier League at the weekend, City did not carry the same threat on the ball in wide areas, at least until Sterling arrived on the scene.

Man of the match – Raheem Sterling (Man City)

Made a difference in attack immediately and should have won a free-kick as soon as he came on when he was fouled on the edge of the area. Guardiola was booked for complaining about that decision, but he was soon celebrating Sterling’s goal.

What next?

City’s next Premier League game sees them back at the Etihad to face Wolves in the Premier League on Sunday (14:00 BST).

They resume their Champions League campaign on 22 October, at home to Atalanta (20:00), when Dinamo Zagreb are away at Shakhtar Donetsk (17:55).

More to follow.

Line-ups

Man City

Substitutes

Dinamo Zagreb

Substitutes

Match Stats

Live Text

Match ends, Manchester City 2, Dinamo Zagreb 0.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Manchester City 2, Dinamo Zagreb 0.

Goal!

Goal! Manchester City 2, Dinamo Zagreb 0. Phil Foden (Manchester City) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Raheem Sterling following a fast break.

Booking

Fernandinho (Manchester City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Fernandinho (Manchester City).

Dani Olmo (Dinamo Zagreb) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Amer Gojak.

Hand ball by Petar Stojanovic (Dinamo Zagreb).

Substitution

Substitution, Manchester City. Phil Foden replaces David Silva.

Attempt missed. Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Riyad Mahrez following a corner.

Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Petar Stojanovic.

Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Emir Dilaver (Dinamo Zagreb).

Substitution

Substitution, Manchester City. Gabriel Jesus replaces Sergio Agüero.

Offside, Dinamo Zagreb. Amer Gojak tries a through ball, but Iyayi Atiemwen is caught offside.

Attempt saved. Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City) right footed shot from very close range is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Raheem Sterling.

Offside, Manchester City. Raheem Sterling tries a through ball, but David Silva is caught offside.

Substitution

Substitution, Dinamo Zagreb. Iyayi Atiemwen replaces Bruno Petkovic.

Attempt missed. Rodrigo (Manchester City) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Ilkay Gündogan following a corner.

Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Emir Dilaver.

Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Dino Peric.

Attempt missed. Ilkay Gündogan (Manchester City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Riyad Mahrez.

Attempt missed. Sergio Agüero (Manchester City) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box misses to the right. Assisted by David Silva.

Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Marin Leovac.

Attempt blocked. Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Raheem Sterling.

Substitution

Substitution, Dinamo Zagreb. Mario Gavranovic replaces Kévin Théophile-Catherine.

Ilkay Gündogan (Manchester City) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Bruno Petkovic (Dinamo Zagreb).

Attempt saved. Sergio Agüero (Manchester City) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by João Cancelo with a cross.

Attempt missed. João Cancelo (Manchester City) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Raheem Sterling.

Foul by Rodrigo (Manchester City).

Bruno Petkovic (Dinamo Zagreb) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Bruno Petkovic (Dinamo Zagreb).

Booking

Dino Peric (Dinamo Zagreb) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Dino Peric (Dinamo Zagreb).

Offside, Manchester City. Riyad Mahrez tries a through ball, but Benjamin Mendy is caught offside.

Goal!

Goal! Manchester City 1, Dinamo Zagreb 0. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the high centre of the goal. Assisted by Riyad Mahrez following a corner.

Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Dino Peric.

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