Gabriel Jesus, Manchester City Beat Dinamo Zagreb 4-1 in Champions League

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistDecember 11, 2019

Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus, front, celebrates with Manchester City's Phil Foden after scoring his side's second goal during the Champions League group C soccer match between Dinamo Zagreb and Manchester City at Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb, Croatia, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
Darko Bandic/Associated Press

Manchester City ended their UEFA Champions League group stage campaign with a 4-1 win against Dinamo Zagreb on Wednesday. Gabriel Jesus netted a hat-trick in the win. 

With nothing on the line for the Sky Blues, manager Pep Guardiola rested several key starters in Croatia. Star prospect Dani Olmo gave the hosts a shock lead, but it was all City from that point, with three goals from Jesus sending Zagreb out of European competition. Phil Foden added a fourth late in the second half.

City had already secured the top spot in Group C before Wednesday's match. Atalanta's win at Shakhtar Donetsk means the Italians defied the odds and advance to the knockout stages with a -4 goal differential. They only picked up one point from their first four matches.

Here is a look at the City starting XI, featuring youngsters Foden and Eric Garcia:

Manchester City @ManCity

Your City line-up 🙌 Bravo, Cancelo, Otamendi (C), E Garcia, Mendy, Rodrigo, Gundogan, Mahrez, Foden, Bernardo, Jesus Subs | Ederson, Walker, Sterling, Zinchenko, Angelino, De Bruyne, Harwood-Bellis 🔵 #ManCity #UCL https://t.co/a4SYrxUOHt

While City had little left to play for, Zagreb knew they had to get a result to advance to the next round, with Shakhtar Donetsk and Atalanta also still in the running.

The hosts were happy to cede possession to City but pressed with intensity when they saw an opening, and it yielded results after just 10 minutes. Star prospect Olmo made a run into the box before unleashing a fantastic volley, beating Claudio Bravo.

Here's a look at the great goal (U.S. viewers only):

B/R Football @brfootball

This is why Europe’s top clubs are looking at Dinamo Zagreb’s Dani Olmo ⚡️ https://t.co/id1tM6J6SE

EiF are expecting more transfer rumours soon:

EiF @EiFSoccer

What a superb goal from Dani Olmo. Great late run into the box and what a first time volley. Would be stunned if we don’t see rumors heat up about him going to a bigger league in the winter/summer.

Dinamo continued to commit numbers to the counter, and while City played their usual passing game, it didn't lead to many openings. The midfield battle was crowded, and the Sky Blues found no success out wide.

A quick counter resulted in a three-on-two situation for the hosts after 25 minutes, but poor decision-making from Nikola Moro saw the great chance come to nothing. Joao Cancelo also made the wrong choice with his cutback, with three Citizens ready to pounce.

Dinamo held steady for much of the half, but a mental mistake cost them dearly. When a player went down with an apparent injury, they switched off, but City kept playing and eventually worked the ball to Jesus, who headed home.

The Brazilian continues to shine on the road:

Squawka Football @Squawka

All eight of Gabriel Jesus' goals this season across all competitions have come away from home. City's specialist on the road. 🛣 https://t.co/NjfFv6WPBU

The hosts were furious, but City were well within their rights to play on, as the apparent injury wasn't to the head.

The rest of the half was played under the jeers from the crowd, and with Shakhtar and Atalanta locked in a scoreless draw in Ukraine, the half-time situation saw Zagreb virtually relegated to the Europa League.

Zagreb's qualification bid was sunk in the span of minutes in the second half, with Jesus netting in the 50th and 54 minutes. The Brazilian finished off two wonderful attacks, with Foden and Benjamin Mendy credited with the respective assists.

The Sky Blues passed a milestone under Guardiola along the way:

Sky Sports Statto @SkySportsStatto

Man City have now scored 500 goals in all competitions under Pep Guardiola (199 games), at least 95 more than any other senior English team since he was appointed Top Scorers: 108 Sergio Aguero 73 Raheem Sterling 55 Gabriel Jesus 39 Leroy Sane https://t.co/Es35YnUS4R

Dinamo had to force the action, but City took complete control of the ball once the two-goal lead was on the board. They also added Oleksandr Zinchenko to the mix, introducing even more stability in the team.

Olmo remained Dinamo's most dangerous player, and he tested Bravo with a fierce strike that was fired too close to the goalkeeper.

Raheem Sterling thought he had made it 4-1 after tapping home a rebound, but the official raised his flag, with replays confirming the England international was offside. Foden did get the fourth goal, finishing neatly after another great passing move. 

To add insult to injury for the hosts, Atalanta beat Shakhtar 3-0, meaning Zagreb not only failed to qualify for the knockout stages, but they also dropped to last place and missed out on a spot in the Europa League. 


What's Next?

City visit Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday. Dinamo host NK Lokomotiva on Friday.