Manchester City completed their passage through to the UEFA Champions League group stage on Wednesday night, Fabian Delph scoring the only goal of the game to complete a 6-0 aggregate win against Steaua Bucharest at the Etihad Stadium.
The game saw the return of out of favour keeper Joe Hart, a swansong for the Englishman it seems. Pablo Maffeo also made his first start for the Blues along with Angus Gunn, Tosin Adarabioyo and Angeliño being named amongst the subs.
City, as expected, were comfortable and in control for the vast majority of the night as they completed their annihilation of the Romanian champions.
City enjoy the majority of possession
A tame beginning to procedures saw City enjoy the majority of possession, moving through the midfield with ease and regaining possession quickly and efficiently when lost.
With little action to report the first noteworthy chance didn't arise till the 25th minute, Jesus Navas' cross found Nolito, the latter attempting a scissor kick but in the end did little to trouble Cojocaru who collected comfortably. Aside from this brief glimmer of brilliance the first half remained very mundane with City doing their best to break down Steaua whilst the visitors were happy to see the scoreline remain goalless.
There was little change in the play as the game went on into the second half, Bucharest the first to show their hand, Adnan Aganovic made way for Nicolae Stanciu and Adrian Popa replacing Ovidiu Popescu.
Delph opens the scoring
Delph was slipped through in superb fashion by Iheanacho, forcing the first meaningful save of the night from Cojocaru, the resulting corner was a poor one however. It didn't matter though as Navas' cross minutes later found Delph, the Englishman flicking beyond the Bucharest stopper, a much needed goal to revive a rather subdued Etihad.
Youngsters given a chance
With an hour gone and the aggregate scoreline now at 6-0, Guardiola felt it was the appropriate time to introduce young stars Tosin Adarabioyo and Angelino, replacing John Stones and Nolito respectively. This was soon followed up by Bucharest's final change of the evening, Sulley Muniru being replaced by Vladimir Achim.
Bucharest started to crank up the pressure on City with twenty minutes remaining, Joe Hart having to be on his toes to tip over a fearsome Stanciu free kick. Kelechi Iheanacho sadly bowed out with 15 minutes remaining after pulling up with what appeared to be a muscle injury to his hamstring, Fernandinho his replacement.
As the game drew to a close City looked to compile Bucharest's misery even further as they looped in a succession of crosses but with little success. So on a night where Hart returned to the fray and the youngsters made their debut, City returned to the Champions League group stages, the result never in doubt.