Manchester City made sure of their place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League but were unable to add to their 5-0 lead from the first leg as Pep Guardiola’s side played out a dull goalless draw with Sporting Lisbon at the Etihad.
With one foot already in the next round following their emphatic win in Portugal three weeks ago, Guardiola made six changes to the side that defeated Manchester United on Sunday, handing 19-year-old CJ Egan-Riley his Champions League debut.
It was a largely uneventful night, and it took City 25 minutes to register their first shot on target, Adan having to be alert to push Phil Foden’s shot wide
City’s best chance came five minutes before half-time when Foden released Raheem Sterling and Sporting had their goalkeeper Adan to thank for saving his attempted lob.
Gabriel Jesus had the ball in the back of the net for City a couple of minutes into the second half, but the Brazilian – who was earlier denied a penalty – was deemed to be marginally offside following a VAR check.
The game was played out like an exhibition and with just over 15 minutes to play, Guardiola used the opportunity to replace Ederson with veteran team mate Scott Carson for his first appearance of the season and his first in the Champions League in almost 17 years.
The 36-year-old was almost immediately called into action, rolling back the years to deny Paulinho with a fine save when the Sporting forward was through on goal.
Sterling may have won it for the reigning English champions on the night but could only slam his shot into the side-netting from point-blank range, as City failed to score in a home Champions League match for the first time under Guardiola. It matters not as, in truth, they had already made sure of their place in the last-eight last month.
TALKING POINT – PROFESSIONAL DISPLAY SEES CITY COMPLETE THE JOB
Having been torn apart by the Citizens three weeks ago, Sporting were far better defensively, reducing Guardiola’s side to just a handful of opportunities, although it was clear their only intention was to keep a clean sheet. The visitors did, however, have a great chance to win on the night only for former England goalkeeper Carson to come to City’s rescue. Who could have seen that coming at the start of the match?
That said, Guardiola’s side were largely in control throughout and they will be pleased to complete the job without too much exertion.
MAN OF THE MATCH – FERNANDINHO (MAN CITY)
His legs aren’t what they were, but there’s no doubting Fernandinho’s class and this game was a reminder of what the 36-year-old has brought to the club over the last decade. The veteran midfielder pierced Sporting’s defence with a number of beautifully weighted passes and his leadership in the centre of the pitch was clear to see. The perfect role model for the club’s emerging talents.
Man City: Ederson 6, Egan-Riley 7, Stones 6, Laporte 6, Zinchenko 6, Fernandinho 8*, Gundogan 6, Silva 6, Sterling 6, Foden 8, Jesus 6.. subs: Carson 7, Mahrez 7, Mbete N/A, McAtee 7.
Sporting Lisbon: Adan 7, Inacio 6, Coates 7, Neto 7, Porro 7, Ugarte 6, Tabata 6, Matheus Reis 6, Sarabia 6, Paulinho 7, Slimani 6.. subs: Feddal N/A, Nuno Santos N/A, Edwards 7, Esgaio N/A, Ribeiro N/A.
38′ – CITY CHANCE! Finally, an opening! Foden’s beautiful ball ushers in Sterling. He tries to lob the ball over the goalkeeper but Adan stands tall and makes the save.
49′ – GOAL DISALLOWED! Mahrez makes an immediate impression, taking a beautiful first touch to control a diagonal pass. It looks like he runs into trouble but gets a lucky break and pokes it through to Jesus. He slots it past Adan at the near post. City’s celebrations are cut short, however, as VAR intervenes and deems the Brazilian to be marginally offside.
76′ – GREAT SAVE BY CARSON! The 36-year-old races off his line to deny Paulinho who was through on goal! What a moment for the veteran goalkeeper, although he may have hurt himself in the process.
90’+3 – BIG MISS! McAtee’s lovely pass finds Sterling who lifts it over the defender but can only hammer the ball into the side-netting from point-blank range.