Raheem Sterling made the difference as Manchester City maintained their winning start in this season’s Champions League with a hard-fought 2-0 win over Dinamo Zagreb.
The England forward came off the bench to break the deadlock after 66 minutes at the Etihad Stadium and then lay on his side’s late second goal for fellow substitute Phil Foden.
It was a result City thoroughly deserved after creating numerous chances but frustration was starting to set in before Sterling’s introduction on 56 minutes changed the course of the game.
He had already troubled the Croatian defence a number of times before turning in Riyad Mahrez’s low ball across the box.
“He’s a player who is always there,” said manager Pep Guardiola. “He has this talent, he loves to score goals. When crosses come, he is always there.
“I think he can still improve his finishing – still there is a gap to being even more clinicial.
“But it’s important that all the time he’s there and that’s why he’s been able to score the goals.”
Guardiola lost his cool at one point when Sterling was tripped just outside the area but was not awarded a free-kick. The City boss was shown a yellow card for his angry reaction.
It was also another frustrating night for City on the VAR front, with two strong penalty claims turned down.
Guardiola said he had “no comment” when asked about these issues, preferring to focus on the performance itself.
City have a maximum six points from their first two games in Group C, which they now lead.
Guardiola said: “It was good. We didn’t concede a shot on target. We had huge possession, we created enough chances to score earlier but we were patient. We didn’t let them run. It was a good game.
“We had chances but they defended really well and that’s why it was diffiuclt to score a goal.”
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