Raheem Sterling struck a late winner as Manchester City secured top spot in Champions League Group F with a 1-0 win over Feyenoord.
The England international clipped home his 11th goal of the season after 88 minutes at the Etihad Stadium to extend City’s club-record winning run to 17 matches in all competitions.
Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling in action during the UEFA Champions League, Group F match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester.
It had otherwise been a rare flat performance from City – by recent standards at least – but Napoli’s convincing victory over Shakhtar Donestsk in the other group game meant they were always in control of their destiny.
Pep Guardiola made seven changes for the match, although he resisted calls to hand starts to highly-rated youngsters Phil Foden and Brahim Diaz, preferring instead to play them off the bench late on.
The game proved a slow-burner with City dominating possession in the early stages without creating any clear-cut openings.
The first serious chance of the game fell to Feyenoord after 19 minutes when Steven Berghuis had an effort deflected wide.
City started to look more dangerous after a couple of uncertain moments from Feyenoord’s former Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Jones, who spilled a Kyle Walker cross and almost let in Bernardo Silva with a poor clearance.
Sergio Aguero, named as captain for the night, picked out the Australian with a drive at goal after Kevin De Bruyne had won possession.
Aguero also appealed unsuccessfully for a penalty after turning Sofyan Amrabat and going down in the area.
City’s goalkeeper Ederson had a bigger scare after losing control on the edge of his area but Jean-Paul Boetius could not capitalise.
Ilkay Gundogan shot over, Aguero headed wide and Sterling had a shot punched away by Jones as City moved up a gear in the latter stages of the first half. Bernardo Silva also should have done better than to shoot tamely after being played in by Sterling.
Feyenoord, backed by around 3,000 noisy fans, almost nicked a goal when Sam Larsson fired narrowly wide while Ederson had to be alert to deny Tonny Vilhena from a misplaced Gundogan pass.
City showed greater urgency after the restart but Aguero miscued a volley and De Bruyne thumped a shot wide.
De Bruyne, however, showed his fallibility – although some might argue his cunning – when he bundled over Berghuis outside the City area. The yellow card he was shown ruled him out of the final group game away to Shakhtar.
City endured an anxious few minutes as Kevin Diks fired a free-kick wide, Ederson saved from Berghuis and Jens Toornstra almost broke clear.
Yaya Toure, making just his fifth appearance of the season, tried to take control of the game with some driving runs, just like in his pomp. Unlike old times, however, he missed the target from a free-kick.
Toure made way for Foden with 16 minutes remaining, both players receiving a good ovation.
Foden looked sharp but the final word went to Sterling as he raced on to a Gundogan pass and lifted over Jones for a late winner.