Football

Gabriel Jesus in timely return ahead of Liverpool clash

City striker scores after coming back from injury, as Pep rests other key players

Pep Guardiola welcomed the option of having a striker fit for the blockbuster English Premier League clash with Liverpool, after Gabriel Jesus marked his return from injury with a goal to seal a 3-0 Champions League win over Olympiakos.

City are cruising towards the last 16 of the competition after gaining maximum points from three games in Group C, thanks in large part to Ferran Torres' free-scoring form.

The Spaniard became the third youngest player to score in four straight Champions League games when he opened the scoring in the 12th minute at the Etihad yesterday morning (Singapore time).

However, the English side have lacked a ruthless streak in the recent weeks in the EPL without a natural striker as both Jesus and Sergio Aguero have been plagued by injuries.

Jesus was introduced for the final quarter to boost his match fitness and took just 12 minutes to thrash the ball high past Jose Sa to double City's advantage.

"We played an exceptional first half, but unfortunately we cannot finish the games, we struggle a bit for the second goal," said Guardiola.

"Finally, an incredible goal from Gabriel (finished the game). In general, it is good news that he is back."

With an eye on the clash with Liverpool on Monday morning, Guardiola made five changes from last Saturday's 1-0 win over Sheffield United.

First-choice centre-backs Aymeric Laporte and Ruben Dias were among those rested. Nathan Ake and John Stones took their places instead.

After wasting a scoring opportunity, Kevin de Bruyne set up a one-two that sent Torres clear to slot home his fourth goal this season.

The City defence was not tested until the Greek visitors changed their approach in the second half, but Guardiola's utilisation of five substitutions helped the hosts pull away.

He first introduced Rodri and Jesus in the 69th minute, with the Brazilian making it 2-0, after receiving de Bruyne's pass.

Guardiola then replaced de Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Kyle Walker with Felix Nmecha, Bernardo Silva and Joao Cancelo, who scored City's third by storming forward from right-back and curling into the bottom corner on his weaker left foot. - AFP

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