“Stones shows glimpses of his potential” – Three things learnt from Feyenoord 0-4 Manchester City
Manchester City’s Champions League campaign got off to a comfortable start on Wednesday night as two goals from John Stones helped Pep Guardiola’s side to a resounding 4-0 win over Feyenoord.
There was only 95 seconds on the clock when the visitors broke the deadlock, with Stones’ headed effort somehow finding its way into the far corner after a woeful piece of defending on the goal-line.
It didn’t take long for City to run away with the match, with Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus both adding to the score-line before the break as they capitalised on more abject Dutch defending.
Stones added a second mid-way through the second-half when he added another header from a corner to secure a perfect start for Guardiola’s side, who sit at the top of Group F on goal difference.
See below for three things The Boot Room learnt from a relatively easy night’s work in Holland.
Stones shows glimpses of his raw potential
When considering that Manchester City comfortably secured a four-goal win away from home in Europe, not many people would assume that centre-back John Stones was the away side’s star man.
The 23-year-old has struggled to reach his potential since arriving in Manchester following his big-money move from Everton, being heavily criticised in his debut year for stagnating his development.
But Stones showed glimpses of his raw potential last night in a dominant performance at both ends of the pitch, scoring the most unlikely of braces whilst keeping a weak Feyenoord side firmly at bay.
His opener after just 95 seconds – unsurprisingly City’s fastest ever Champions League goal – set the ball rolling on a routine evening for the Blues whilst his second was a typical headed set-piece effort.
But it wasn’t just in front of goal where the England international had an impact, completing 131 of his 134 attempted passes as he kept possession ticking along nicely just inside the Feyenoord half, whilst he also put in a resolute defensive display in making 100% of his tackles and seven clearances.
Performances like this against the limp resistance of Feyenoord won’t all of a sudden make him an outstanding defender but Wednesday could give him the confidence he needs to kick-on this season.
The Aguero – Jesus partnership continues to blossom
With five goals in the space of a few days between them it’s hard to believe that Pep Guardiola hadn’t experimented with both Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero starting until the 2017-18 season.
Jesus’ meteoric rise last year – prior to picking up his long-term injury – had seen many people asking the question of ‘which one’ should be a starter, with Aguero benched on a few occasions.
However, given the opportunity to play alongside each other the duo have shown that they could be the Premier League’s most fearsome strike force, and they continued their fine run of goal-scoring form.
Aguero’s effort was a classy affair, running towards the front post before flicking the ball into the opposite corner, whilst the 19-year-old Brazilian beat the offside trap and slotted into an empty net.
It’s clear to see that there’s an understanding developing between the two, with Jesus comfortable dropping deeper whilst Aguero stays on the shoulder of the last man, and if they can keep fit throughout the season there’s no reason as to why City can’t challenge for all of the big trophies.
Bigger tests will come against Napoli and Shakhtar Donetsk
Whilst the commanding nature of Manchester City’s victory would have been pleasing, it is fair to say the Dutch outfit didn’t particularly provide a stern test of City’s Champions League credentials.
Feyenoord simply weren’t good enough on the night – looking more of a Europa League side than Champions League – and they were the architects of their own downfall with some poor defending.
City’s opener came courtesy of a calamitous error on the line, with Tonny Vilhena somehow letting the ball squirm through his legs, whilst the whole Feyenoord back-line – and the goalkeeper – stood still appealing for offside as Jesus popped up in the right place at the right time to score a third goal.
Ederson Moraes had very little to do all night as the Premier League side cantered to three points, but Guardiola will know that tougher challenges lie ahead when they host Shakhtar Donetsk next up.