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Porto 0-0 Manchester City: 5 talking Points as goalless draw sees both sides through to Round of 16 | UEFA Champions League 2020-21

Manchester City and Porto played out an eventful 0-0 draw in Portugal.
Manchester City and Porto played out an eventful 0-0 draw in Portugal.
Vaibhav Joshi

A goalless draw played out at the Estadio Do Dragao on Tuesday was enough to see both Manchester City and Porto through to the Round of 16 of the 2020-21 edition of the UEFA Champions League.

Manchester City, who needed a point to confirm their status as group winners, were the more dominant side in the game but were denied on multiple occasions by some eye-catching saves from Porto goalkeeper Agustin Marchesin.

Porto, who also needed a point to secure their progress to the next round, were content to sit back and soak up Manchester City’s pressure, making the occasional foray forward on the break without testing the hosts' backline too much.

Gabriel Jesus thought he had won it for the hosts only for VAR to rule out his 80th-minute effort for offside, the closest either side came to breaking the deadlock on the night.

Eventually, both sides walked away content with the draw, with the final game week to decide who between Marseille and Olympiacos take third place and drop into the Europa League.

On that note, let’s take a look at the five major talking points from the game.


#1 Manchester City rest key players, Porto go all out

The likes of Oleksandr Zinchenko returned to the starting eleven for Manchester City against Porto.
The likes of Oleksandr Zinchenko returned to the starting eleven for Manchester City against Porto.

Having already secured their place in the knockout stage by virtue of a perfect record after four games, Manchester City had the luxury of resting key players for the game at Porto.

Pep Guardiola made no less than seven changes to the side that thrashed Burnley 5-0 at the weekend, with the likes of Kevin de Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker on the bench.

However, this game carried much more significance for the hosts, who were in pole position to qualify for the next stage of the competition alongside Manchester City but needed a positive result to make sure of their progression.

Sergio Conceicao rested star striker Moussa Marega at the weekend so that he could start him against Manchester City in a strong eleven that also included the likes of Jesus Corona and Sergio Oliveira.


#2 Both defences take centre stage

Porto defended deep from the start and put in a dogged defensive display.
Porto defended deep from the start and put in a dogged defensive display.

Knowing that a point would be enough to secure progression to the next stage of the Champions League, Porto set up in an extremely defensive 5-4-1 formation and sat deep from the start.

Committed to defending deep, the hosts invited pressure from Manchester City throughout but remained alert to the possibility of using their pace to launch counterattacks wherever possible.

Manchester City, who were already through to the next round, also needed a solitary point to secure top spot in the group.

As such, with not a lot to play for, the away side’s attacking play also lacked their usual cutting edge and fluency, relying too heavily on moments of magic from Phil Foden to carve out chances.

The combination of these two approaches resulted in a game of few chances of note, with both sides combining to muster up just one shot on target in the first half.

Even though Manchester City ramped up the pressure in the second half, Porto’s defence remained resolute to keep their citadel intact.

In contrast, Manchester City’s defenders were more active in front of the opposition goal rather than their own. However, they carried out what little defensive duties they had with great composure, with Ederson called into action on a couple of occasions in the first half but having little to do in the second.

#3 Manchester City's Phil Foden proves himself to be a worthy heir to David Silva

Phil Foden shone in his midfield role and was Manchester City's creator-in-chief on the night.
Phil Foden shone in his midfield role and was Manchester City's creator-in-chief on the night.

A huge reason for Manchester City’s domestic dominance in recent times was David Silva, with the diminutive Spaniard lighting up the club with some dazzling displays for a decade during his time in Manchester.

So influential was the Spanish midfielder that he commanded a place in Pep Guardiola’s first-choice starting-eleven well into his final season at the Etihad Stadium, largely restricting Foden to sporadic appearances off the bench.

Despite the limited game-time, Foden displayed enough quality during his time on the pitch to ensure that Manchester City’s midfield was in safe hands.

And now, with Silva having returned to La Liga to wind down his successful career, the young Englishman has stepped up to fill his sizeable boots at Manchester City.

This Champions League tie against Porto served as yet another reminder of Foden’s huge talent and ability, as the 20-year-old was Manchester City’s most influential player, pulling the strings from midfield with a maturity well beyond his years.

A number of pin-point passes from the deep were coupled with several intelligent runs in behind the Porto defence as Foden tried to help his side break the deadlock in a manner that was quite reminiscent of Silva and his preferred style of play.

Having recently broken into the senior England side and with increased responsibilities for Manchester City as well, the stage seems set for Foden to showcase the full extent of his talent and lead both England and Manchester City to success in the years to come.

#4 Agustin Marchesin shines in goal for Porto

Agustin Marchesin pulled off a string of superb saves to keep his side in the game.
Agustin Marchesin pulled off a string of superb saves to keep his side in the game.

Agustin Marchesin’s bow in European football came extremely late in his career. He joined Porto in 2019 as a 31-year-old after spending several years playing in his native Argentina as well as in the Liga MX in Mexico.

Brought in to take over from the even more experienced Iker Casillas, Marchesin has proved himself to be capable of handling the spotlight in Europe’s biggest stage. He put in a Man-of-the-Match display against Manchester City on Tuesday to help his side progress to the Round of 16.

Having had little work to do in the first half, Marchesin was called into action on several occasions in the second and answered the call with great aplomb on each occasion, keeping his side in the game with a series of excellent saves.

A save from point-blank range denied Sterling in a one-on-one situation in the 58th minute before a superb reflex save kept Ferran Torres’ acrobatic effort from going in ten minutes later.

Marchesin saved his best for the end, though. A superb diving effort kept out Eric Garcia’s powerful header in the 80th minute, with the ball seemingly destined for the back of the net but for a strong hand from the veteran keeper.

#5 The fate of Group C is sealed before Matchday 6

Porto secured qualification to the Round of 16 with one game left to play.
Porto secured qualification to the Round of 16 with one game left to play.

While Manchester City needed just a point against Porto to confirm their status as Group C winners, Porto also needed at least a draw against City or for Olympiacos to fail to beat Marseille in the other fixture in the group to secure progression.

As it turned out, the Portuguese side were able to tick both boxes, claiming the necessary point against Manchester City even as Marseille ran out 2-1 winners against Olympiacos at the Stade Velodrome.

The French side, in the process, ended a woeful run of 13 straight defeats in the Champions League, the longest such consecutive losing streak in Champions League history.

As a result, Manchester City and Porto progressed from Group C into the next round of the Champions League, with City securing top spot.

All that remains to be decided on the final matchday in the group is which one of Marseille or Olympiacos will fall through to the Europa League when the Ligue 1 side face City and Porto take on Olympiacos.

Edited by Bhargav

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