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Iheanacho and Zabaleta impress against Celtic

Iheanacho and Zabaleta impress against Celtic
Pep Guardiola picked an experimental line-up for Manchester City’s final Champions League Group Stage game and there’s been plenty of analysis from the nation’s journalists in the aftermath.

Wednesday’s media round-up of course focuses on the reaction to last night’s 1-1 draw with Celtic, with goal scorer Kelechi Iheanacho and midfielder-for-the-night Pablo Zabaleta the men singled out for press praise.

The Nigerian once again proved an able deputy to Sergio Aguero and The Mirror’s John Cross feels the youngster is more than capable of ensuring City don’t suffer due to the Argentine’s forthcoming suspension.

"Incredibly, Iheanacho has now scored 13 goals in 18 starts for Manchester City. That is some goal scoring record for a 20-year-old who is still seen as back-up for Sergio Aguero or a supersub,” he enthuses.

“Those stats prove he can do it in the big games from the start. He has got pace, movement and a prolific eye for goal.

“Maybe, just maybe, City might not miss Aguero during his four game domestic ban as much as we thought.

“And maybe it will give Iheanacho the chance to prove he can deliver on a regular basis in the Premier League.”

So long a stalwart of the right side of our defence, Zabaleta has also earned media recognition for an impressive display at the heart of midfield.

Picking him out as the Blues’ Man of the Match, the Manchester Evening News’ Stuart Brennan writes: After all these years, he [Zabaleta] turns out to be a powerhouse, inventive, box-to-box midfielder!

“Great run and pass should have brought Kelechi a second goal, and he was City's most inventive and most solid midfield influence.”

WATCH: Man City v Celtic: Match highlights

Meanwhile, BBC’s Chief Football Writer has been considering what we’ve learnt from City’s Group Stage performance.

After taking second place, Phil McNulty believes Guardiola will ultimately be content with how his maiden European adventure has panned out so far.

“Manchester City's group stage was a mixed bag, but was more than good enough to get them out of a tough section in the place most would have predicted,” he writes.

“City's performances can be summed up by their two displays against Barcelona - mauled 4-0 in the Nou Camp, City were magnificent when winning 3-1 after going behind at Etihad Stadium.

“This is a side who could beat the best and yet may still have the capacity to lose to those outside the elite.

“Guardiola, however, is well within his rights to be satisfied with a campaign that saw them ensure qualification with a game to spare.”

Finally, as 1 January creeps ever closer, so does the arrival of yellow tickers and transfer rumours galore.

Fulham’s Ryan Sessegnon is the latest player to be linked with a move to East Manchester, with the Daily Mail’s Simon Jones suggesting: “Manchester City are ready to step up their interest in Fulham teenager Ryan Sessegnon.

“Sportsmail revealed City had targeted the 16-year-old in August and have been impressed with his development this season as they monitor his progress."

That’s all for today, Blues, but we’ll be back tomorrow with more from the back pages!

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