Manchester City goalscorer Raheem Sterling praised his side’s “solidity” as the key to “winning ugly” as they overcame a stubborn Feyenoord effort to take a 1-0 victory at Etihad Stadium.
The Dutch side held their own against Pep Guardiola’s Premier League leaders for 88 minutes in Group F, against all odds given that Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side were rooted to the bottom of the table with no points from their first four outings in Europe this season.
However, City’s quality in the final third finally told as Sterling chipped home an 88th-minute winner, while Shakhtar Donetsk lost 3-0 to Napoli, to guarantee City top spot in the group. The goal finally came for City when Sterling was played in on goal, where he steadied himself before chipping over Brad Jones – who had played alongside Sterling during his Liverpool days.
Speaking post-match, Sterling said: “They kept really solid, we were slow on the ball. They dug in deep and stayed in the game as long as possible.
“It’s always good to score, but it’s more important to win, even if it’s ugly sometimes.”
Yaya Toure, who lined out in the centre of midfield of a 4-3-3 formation for City, emphasised that he – and presumably by extension City – have plenty of experience in overcoming defensive-minded opposition, and that it was a lack of incision in the final third that had kept the game so close for so long.
“I have a lot of experience in these type of situations. It was a difficult game, they defended really well. If we score in the first half the game can change,” said Toure.
City round off Group F away to Shakhtar on 6 December.