MANCHESTER   -  Manchester City came from behind to make a winning start in Champions League Group C with a 3-1 victory over Porto at the Etihad Stadium. City had fallen behind to a fine 14th-minute solo strike from Luis Diaz but a Sergio Aguero penalty brought them level before second-half goals from Ilkay Gundogan and Ferran Torres secured the win. 

Pep Guardiola’s side, defeated in the quarter-finals last season, struggled to find their fluidity in the opening 45 minutes but as Porto tired after the break, City’s quality proved enough. “If I’m being honest we are struggling at the moment,” said German midfielder Gundogan. “Fernandinho went off at the end, we have players playing in different positions. I am not 100% there because I had Covid, we are not all at the same moment. “That is the challenge for this season, it’s not going to end for a while” he added 

Porto grabbed the lead when City’s Ruben Dias, a recent signing from Benfica, gave away the ball and Colombian winger Diaz cut in from the left, burst diagonally across the City defence and shot into the far bottom corner of Ederson’s goal. The home side were soon back on level terms though when, after Gundogan had struck the post, Porto defender Pepe bundled over Raheem Sterling in the resulting scramble and Aguero converted the ensuing penalty. 

City were far from their flowing best but went in front in the 65th minute with a perfect, curling free kick from Gundogan over the wall and beyond the reach of Porto keeper Agustin Marchesin. Substitutes Torres and Phil Foden then combined to make it 3-1, with the Spaniard collecting a return pass from the England midfielder before gliding into space and driving a right-foot shot into the far corner. 

City’s Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho, brought on in the 85th minute, limped off in stoppage time with what appeared to be a muscle injury. Porto remain without a win in 21 games in England, a run which has seen them manage just three draws. 

Meanwhile, Liverpool beat Ajax Amsterdam 1-0 away with a fortunate own goal in their Champions League group-stage opener, riding their luck at times but still showing their title credentials. Ajax fullback Nicolas Tagliafico turned the ball into his own net in the 35th minute to ensure a winning start in Group D for the English champions, who looked the stronger of the two teams despite Ajax creating several good chances at the Johan Cruyff Arena.

Davy Klaassen struck the post with a powerful shot and Quincy Promes had a point-blank effort stopped by the legs of Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian as the Dutch club created a handful of excellent opportunities. Yet Liverpool, who won their sixth Champions League title in 2019, still proved value for their victory, dominating possession and counter attacking at pace while keeping a clean sheet despite missing defensive talisman Virgil van Dijk, who suffered a serious knee injury at the weekend. Fabinho moved from midfield to centre defence to replace Van Dijk and had an outstanding game, notably hooking a clearance off the line to deny Dusan Tadic just before halftime.

It was one of several chances for Ajax in the first half, as Lisandro Martinez had a header saved by Adrian and Ryan Gravenberch shot narrowly wide, much to the annoyance of Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp, who spent the early part of the game berating and shouting instructions to his players. But his agitation was quelled when Sadio Mane turned the Ajax defence with a swift body movement to set up the goal. He miskicked his own effort, but it caught Tagliafico as he clumsily tried to clear, but instead deflected it into the Ajax net. 

Klopp took off Mane and his strike partners Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah with 30 minutes still left, but replacements Diogo Jota and Takumi Minamino kept up the pressure on the home team. Ajax should have equalised, however, four minutes into stoppage time when Adrian did not properly deal with a cross into the area but substitute Jurgen Ekkelenkamp missed the target.