John Stones blow dampens Manchester City joy at Champions League progress

By Sports Desk November 07, 2023

Manchester City defender John Stones is facing a lay-off after suffering an injury in the holders’ Champions League stroll against Young Boys on Tuesday.

The England international was withdrawn at half-time at the Etihad Stadium.

Manager Pep Guardiola described the loss of Stones as the “deep bad news” from a night when City secured their place in the last 16 for an 11th successive year with an otherwise straightforward 3-0 win.

Guardiola said: “It’s muscular, he is injured, so he’ll be a while out. It is a pity for him because he’s an incredible professional.

“He tried to do it but it’s bad news for us. It’s the deep bad news for tonight.”

The news is a further blow for Stones, who has already missed two months of the season with a hamstring problem.

Fellow defender Manuel Akanji also missed the game after a blow to the back in training but, despite looking “75 years old” in Guardiola’s words, the manager added “hopefully it will not be a big issue and he could be ready for Sunday”.

One player apparently untroubled was Erling Haaland, who made light of the ankle problem that curtailed him on Saturday to score two of City’s goals in a one-sided encounter with the Swiss champions.

Phil Foden also got on the scoresheet as City won their fourth Group G game in succession to secure progress with two games to spare.

Guardiola said of Haaland, who was substituted on the hour: “Yesterday we saw how he moved and how happy he was and he felt good. I said, OK and for us he’s so important.

“After the job was almost done, he took a rest for (the game against Chelsea on) Sunday.”

Guardiola was pleased with his side’s achievement but, with RB Leipzig three points behind, maintained he would not ease up until top spot in the group was secured.

He said: “We’ve already qualified but still the job is not done because we have to finish first. It’s better to have the second leg in the last 16 at home than away because at home we feel confident.

“Still you have a job to do but the first step is done and I’m really impressed.”

It was a miserable night for Young Boys, who ended the game with 10 men after Sandro Lauper was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Coach Raphael Wicky said: “We’re obviously not happy. We’re not happy with the performance we’ve made but we know it’s very difficult to get something here.

“We knew if we want to get a point or a win, we needed to have the perfect game.

“I saw some good stuff in the first half but it’s very difficult to defend against Man City. They always have chances.”

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