Oxford Utd 0 Man City 3: Phil Foden, Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez score in Carabao Cup clash

Apart from Riyad Mahez continuing his goals run, having hit two in south Wales, the similarities must end there.

Despite being in command for most of the match against the hosts from the wrong end of League One, City delivered a disappointing, low tempo performance.

Gabriel Jesus opened the scoring in the first half and only a second from Mahrez with 12 minutes left settled the nerves for City’s 1,200 fans.

Until that second strike, Oxford even had a few moments of hope when they pushed City’s superstars and all they needed was a fluke or own goal and — potentially — the game could have gone to spot-kicks.

Yet Mahrez delivered a polished finish from around the end of the box and it was from another fine pass from Phil Foden who was excellent in his first start since the Community Shield at Wembley.

Foden, 18, thought he was not going to get the goal he deserved when was denied by a decent save from home keeper Jonathan Mitchell.

But the young England star scored with an excellent left-footed effort in injury time.

Yet there was disappointment for John Stones who played in midfield but lost the ball on far too many occasions.

For Guardiola, he will have been relieved to have got away from Oxford without suffering a major embarrassment.

Equally, Oxford boss Karl Robinson will have been boosted with an encouraging performance from a team which should be able to climb to safety.

Oxford went into the game against the reigning Premier League champions and Carabao Cup holders laying second from bottom in League One with just one win in nine matches.

City’s fit-again Brazilian defender Danilo was playing his first match since the World Cup while Guardiola also gave a debut to  teenage keeper Aro Muric, 19.

England centre-back John Stones was pushed up as a defensive midfielder while Phil Foden was handed a rare start by Guardiola.

Although City started slowly, Gabriel Jesus thought he had opened the scoring with a deflected effort but it was ruled out for offside.

David Silva had another chance but his finishing was surprisingly poor after home keeper Jon Mitchell parried an effort from Oleksandr Zinchenko.

While a Blues goal appeared inevitable, Oxford had a few moments and the crowd took a deep breath when skipper Shandon Baptiste, Oxford’s best player this season, threaded a fine ball through City’s defence for Jon Obika who was clean through, but was offside.

City, who face Brighton on Saturday followed by a Champions League trip to Hoffenheim, took the lead with the scruffiest of goals in front of the home fans.

Foden started the move with a excellent pass to Brahim Diaz and while his effort was blocked, the ball fell perfectly for Jesus to score with his head from close range.

The home supporters had helped create a bubbly atmosphere but this strike certainly knocked the absolute stuffing out of them.

Silva caused havoc with a mazy run but Riyad Mahrez, who looked as though he would score, drilled the ball wide.

Danilo appeared to be on a mission to get on the scoresheet and he hammered an effort which flashed cross the face of  Mitchell’s goal an, despite generally being outplayed, Oxford were still just one strike from levelling the tie.

At times, City were guilty of being too elaborate and they found themselves wasting some half-decent chances.

Diaz then limped off nine minutes into the second half after suffering a heavy tackle and Raheem Sterling was unleashed although, predictably, to jeers.

Sterling has thick skin and has become used to this type of rubbish wherever he plays but it is still curious treatment for a player who would have been cheered on by all of this near-12000 crowd during the World Cup.

The City star certainly wasted no time in teasing and tormenting Oxford defender Luke Garbutt.

And there was some relief for the other Oxford players when Silva was taken off but as you would expect with any City bench, it was hardly weak — and Ilkay Gundogan appeared.

Jesus, maybe forgetting the score, was far too casual when he had the ball at his feet but his finishing was poor.

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