Pep Guardiola highlighted the second goal as a decisive moment in Manchester City’s win over Olympiakos – in which he thought John Stones was “almost perfect”.
Gabriel Jesus marked his return by scoring from the bench, joining Ferran Torres and Joao Cancelo on the scoresheet.
Despite going 1-0 up inside 12 minutes, City had to wait until the last 10 minutes to get their other two goals. And Guardiola admitted his side struggled somewhat to close out the game, but was pleased as they eventually edged closer towards qualification for the knockout stages.
“In the first half we played really well,” he told BT Sport. “In the second half we struggled for some moments but when we scored the second one it was over.
“We’ve had a good three games, nine points. We need three more points or one more point to qualify. We have five days to recover for Liverpool and then the international break.
“They had one or two chances [to equalise]. When we controlled in the way we control, we cannot finish games – we struggle with the second goal – but finally with an incredible goal from Gabriel Jesus and then from Joao Cancelo we win the game.”
Guardiola praises ‘incredible’ Stones
Guardiola brought England defender Stones in for only his second start of the season. The decision worked well, as City kept a clean sheet.
Stones completed 90 minutes alongside Nathan Ake at centre-back, and his manager was delighted with what he saw.
“John Stones is back, an incredible performance – almost perfect,” he enthused. “It’s not easy when you’re a long time without playing.”
Now, he is looking forward to their next game, against Premier League champions Liverpool on Sunday.
Guardiola knows his players need a break, so will give them a well-deserved day off on Wednesday.
He said: “The forecast in the next three days says it will be sunny in Manchester. It’s rare.
“We’re going to have tomorrow off. After that on Friday and Saturday we’ll prepare for the Liverpool game. But the players need a break.”