When Ferran Torres cut inside on to a pass from Phil Foden to score high across goal with his right foot with a little over quarter of an hour to go, Pep Guardiola celebrated enthusiastically. It said much for the importance of this victory.
There will be greater challenges ahead for Guardiola’s City team in the Premier League and this competition. But this was a win that City needed as they look to give their season a little oomph.
It has not been easy so far. A late return to training because of their involvement in the latter stages of last season’s Champions League was followed by injuries and some indifferent performances.
Manchester City survived an early scare in the Champions League on Wednesday night to beat FC Porto 3-1 at the Etihad
One of City’s summer signings, Ferran Torres, celebrates scoring his side’s third goal against Porto to cap a fine second half
City’s Ilkay Gundogan scored the home side’s goal of the night when he sent a free-kick into the top corner of the Porto goal
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS
MANCHESTER CITY (4-3-3): Ederson 6; Walker 7, Dias 6.5, Garcia 5.5, Cancelo 5; Silva 7, Rodri 6 (Fernandinho 85mins), Gundogan 7.5 (Foden 68, 6.5); Mahrez 6, Aguero 7 (Torres 68, 7), Sterling 7
Subs not used: Steffen, Carson, Stones, Zinchenko, Fernandinho, Nmecha, Doyle, Harwood-Bellis, Palmer, Bernabe
Booked: Walker, Cancelo, Silva, Garcia.
Scorers: Aguero 20 (pen), Gundogan 65, Torres 73
Manager: Pep Guardiola 6
FC PORTO (5-4-1): Marchesin 6; Corona 6.5 (Nanu 77), Mbemba 6, Pepe 5, Sarr 6.5 (Evanilson 80), Sanusi 6.5 (Nakajima 76); Vieira 6 (Taremi 77), Oliviera 6, Uribe 7, Diaz 7 (Manafa 55, 6); Marega 6
Subs not used: Costa, Leite, Loum, Grujic, Baro, Anderson, Martinez.
Scorer: Diaz 14
Manager: Sergio Conceicao 6
Referee: Andris Treimanis (Latvia) 4
Player ratings by Ian Ladyman at the Etihad Stadium
But this was better. This was a test handed to them by Porto’s early goal that City negotiated comfortably enough in the end.
Luis Diaz’s opener for Porto was a belter, even if it stemmed from a moment of carelessness from City defender Ruben Dias. Briefly, City looked a little rattled.
But a Sergio Aguero penalty — his first goal of the season — ensured City were not behind for long. They went on to win the game through an Ilkay Gundogan free-kick and Torres’ strike in the second half.
There was an increasing rhythm and aggression about this performance that will have pleased Guardiola more.
Not much had happened by the time City’s new defender Ruben Dias picked up possession 30 yards from his own goal in the 14th minute but as soon as he passed the ball straight to Matheus Uribe the home team were in trouble.
Uribe immediately made a short pass to Diaz and the young Colombian set off on a devastating run. Diaz didn’t actually fox any of the City defenders with a trick but he was so quick that he didn’t have to.
He bypassed the lot of them and when he flew past Joao Cancelo he was able to drive a low shot back across Ederson and into the far corner.
It was a super goal and even though City’s Dias was culpable, that should not detract from the brilliance of the finish.
Porto were decent on the break all night. Not for the first time this season, City looked a little vulnerable to some direct running.
They were grateful to be invited back in to the game almost immediately by a moment of madness from Porto’s veteran defender Pepe.
Ilkay Gundogan’s run in to the penalty area almost resulted in a goal but when the ball spun lose off the post, Pepe simply dashed towards Raheem Sterling and bundled him over.
Replays showed that Gundogan may have fouled goalkeeper Agustin Marchesin on his way in to the area and he certainly made contact with his opponent’s shin. But VAR chose not to intervene and Aguero scored low to Marchesin’s right from the penalty spot.
Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez were now particularly lively down City’s right.
But, if anything, it was Porto who carried the greater threat in the final third. Uribe should have done better than shoot over after being presented with the ball by a dreadful Ederson clearance.
Then, just before the break, Kyle Walker had to clear a Dias miskick off his own line after a low shot from Moussa Marega.
Emotions were running unusually high among both sets of substitutes scattered at socially acceptable distances in the seats behind the dug outs.
A clinical strike from Porto’s Luis Diaz, after a slaloming run that cut Manchester City’s defence apart, finds the net
Diaz punches the air in celebration after giving his side the lead 14 minutes into the tie at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday
Shortly after Porto had taken the lead, veteran defender Pepe fouled City’s Raheem Sterling inside the penalty area
Pepe remonstrates with referee Andris Treimanis after the penalty was given against the Portuguese central defender
In the absence of Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero stepped up and lashed home his penalty to bring City back level
Porto goalkeeper Augustin Marchesin guessed the right way but couldn’t prevent the Argentina international from scoring
City’s cheerleader in chief was the Brazilian Fernandinho, who seemed unimpressed with just about everything the Latvian referee did.
City were by far the more assertive team the longer the night went on but that didn’t lessen the danger Porto presented on the break — even if goalscorer Diaz was taken off before the hour.
When Fabio Vieira was penalised for fouling Gundogan in the 65th minute, the German took the free-kick wonderfully to beat Marchesin to his right from 25 yards.
That goal proved too much for Porto and they offered little after that. Torres had only been on the field a matter of minutes before he scored.
The night ended with Guardiola and his opposite number Sergio Conceicao arguing on the touchline after Pepe appeared to kick Sterling as the City player lay on the floor. Pepe was booked and could easily have been sent off.
Aguero celebrates with central midfielder Rodri after scoring the equalising goal in City’s Group C Champions League tie
Sterling shows his frustration after another City chance goes begging in a difficult first half against the Portuguese side
City boss Pep Guardiola shouts instructions at his players during a tough contest in the Champions League group stages
Sterling attempts to burst into the Porto penalty area as he’s flanked by Chancel Mbemba (left) and Wilson Manafa
Ilkay Gundogan sends a right-footed free-kick from 25 yards towards goal after he was brought down by Fabio Viera
Gundogan is mobbed by his City team-mates after putting Guardiola’s side in front for the first time on Wednesday night
Torres lost his footing after making contact with the ball but then watched as his strike soared into Porto’s top left corner