Pep Guardiola claimed his Manchester City team were “alive” after they secured their place in the Champions League last 16 with a 1-0 victory over Olympiacos.
City have made a mixed start to their campaign in the Premier League but their European form has been impressive with four successive victories and progress assured with two Group C games to spare.
City mustered just one goal through Phil Foden in Piraeus but they created numerous other chances and were rarely threatened by the Greek champions.
Guardiola said: “We made an incredible group stage. That’s 12 points so we are already qualified and are going to try to finish first.
“For the performance, we didn’t concede one shot on target. I know it looks easy when it happens but it’s not because of the quality of the players.
“Unfortunately we could only score one goal but the team is alive.”
Scoring goals has been a problem for City in the opening months of the season but, with performances like the one in Greece, he insists he is not overly concerned.
“Sooner or later (that will come),” he said. “Today we were much more aggressive.
“It’s not easy to play against nine defenders but our pressing was so good. They made long balls and our central defenders were outstanding.
“Everyone was so committed and we attacked with more desire to shoot, to score. Now we recover as quick as possible and start focusing on the Premier League.
“We came here to get to the last 16 and we are there again, another year.”
Guardiola was particularly pleased with the performance of John Stones, who has found opportunities limited this term following the signings of Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake.
He said: “A big compliment for John Stones because it is not easy after a long time and with Ruben alongside they make an incredible couple. I’m especially happy for him.”
Olympiacos, who were without a number of key players, were frustrated and felt they should have been awarded a foul prior to City’s goal.
The all-important kick! ⚽️🔥
— Manchester City (@ManCity) November 25, 2020
Coach Pedro Martins said in a press conference: “We really fought. We had absences but we tried as hard as we could and gave everything.
“We also had a foul on (Mohamed) Drager that was not given prior to City’s goal. However, I am proud of our effort.”
Club owner Evangelos Marinakis criticised the lack of VAR intervention before Foden’s goal.
He said: “In the goal of Manchester a clear foul was made, an elbow to Drager. It is very easy for the referees to see it in the VAR and inform the referee if he has not seen it himself.
“It is not nice when the players give everything on the field and can get a good result but the refereeing is unfair to us once again.”