Manchester City secured their place in the Champions League knockout stages with a 1-0 win against Olympiakos on Wednesday night but Pep Guardiola may be most happy with the performance of John Stones.

The England international was handed a rare start by the Spanish manager, and although it was a game which was completely dominated by the Citizens, he performed his job admirably when called upon.

The former Everton man has started just one game in the Premier League so far this season but has been more of a regular in the Champions League, having started two and appeared as a substitute in two of their four games thus far.

After an impressive display in the reserve fixture, in which he earned a strong 7.08 rating for his display, he was rewarded with another start against Pedro Martins’ side, and helped the Citizens to another clean sheet; picking up a 7.37 rating for his display (per WhoScored).

Following his performance in the 3-0 win, Guardiola was full of praise for him in his post-match interview, saying:

“It was really good, especially Nathan for the beginning and from John. He’s back at his level with an incredible performance – almost perfect – and it is not easy when you are a long time without playing.

“I am so delighted for his mentality, he played really good.” (per Bitter and Blue)

It was an imperious display from Stones, with the Olympiakos forwards failing to trouble him and his centre-back partner Ruben Dias during the 90 minutes.

As per SofaScore, the 26-year-old picked up a strong 7.3 rating for his display, which was the joint-second best of any Manchester City player during the game.

The Englishman was extremely assured with his passing during the game, as 50/58 of his passes found their mark, resulting in a strong pass accuracy rate of 86%.

He also lost possession on just eight occasions during the game, whilst two out of four of his long balls found a Manchester City shirt.

However, we have always known that Stones has been confident on the ball, so it was perhaps the battling aspect of his display that will have pleased Guardiola the most.

Of the five duels the centre-back was involved in during the game, he won 100% of them, in what was a completely dominant display from the defender.

It would be a surprise to see him keep Aymeric Laporte out of the team for Premier League games, but Stones has certainly shown himself to be a reliable option for Guardiola when called upon so far this campaign.

AND in other news… Manchester City made a huge error in selling “very quick” centre-back in 2018

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Source: Football – Football Fan Cast