Kevin De Bruyne felt patience paid off as Manchester City maintained their winning start in the Champions League with a comfortable victory at Marseille on Tuesday.
De Bruyne shone on his return to the starting line-up after injury as City ran out 3-0 winners at the Stade Velodrome on Tuesday, with goals from Ferran Torres, Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling.
City’s superiority was evident throughout but Marseille, perhaps taking encouragement from the success of Lyon against Pep Guardiola’s men last season, sat deep and made them grind out their chances.
The hosts deployed a five-man back line in the hope of absorbing pressure and hitting City on the break but the plan failed as the visitors got on the front foot and rarely allowed their intensity to drop.
“We tried to play the way we always play,” said playmaker De Bruyne. “I know it’s very difficult because obviously all the teams lately adapt to us, they play five in the back and four in midfield.
“So it’s not easy, you have to show patience, but I think we did really well and we scored the goals at the right time, so that was really important.”
City showed their intent early and their dominance was rewarded as Torres, surprisingly chosen as centre forward in the absence of Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus, turned in De Bruyne’s pass after 18 minutes.
City’s control of possession suggested they could win emphatically but it was not until the 76th minute that Gundogan tucked in from Sterling’s nod-down. Sterling then wrapped up the win from another pinpoint De Bruyne pass five minutes later.
The result took City three points clear at the top of Group C after two games and the positivity of their performance should lift confidence levels after a mixed start in the Premier League.
De Bruyne said: “To come here and play a good game, score three goals and keep a clean sheet is very important and I think we knew if we won today we would have six points and it’s a good step for us to advance and now we can go on to the next game.”
City, who travel to Sheffield United on Saturday, have had to contend with a lengthy injury list. As well as Aguero and Jesus, Benjamin Mendy, Nathan Ake and Fernandinho also missed the trip to France.
De Bruyne, however, appeared to come through unscathed despite some rough challenges from the hosts.
Manager Guardiola said: “He is an outstanding, incredible person and football player.
“These actions happen in football unfortunately. That is why the referee is there. Fortunately nothing more happened and we are ready for the next game.”
Defender Aymeric Laporte also came through 77 minutes on his return to the side.
“I’m very happy to be back and I hope it’s for a long time,” said the Frenchman. “We will see what happens but I am very happy to be back with the team and I hope to play the next games.”