Manchester City put their Premier League woes to one side as Gabriel Jesus scored a hat-trick in a dominant 4-1 win over Dinamo Zagreb in the Croatian capital on Wednesday.
Dinamo needed to win to have any chance of joining City in the last 16 and got off to the perfect start through Dani Olmo’s sweetly struck volley 10 minutes in.
However, even a much-changed City side had way too much quality for the hosts as the game wore on and a trio of fine finishes from Jesus in a 20-minute spell either side of half-time secured a morale-boosting win.
Phil Foden rounded off the scoring as defeat saw Zagreb slip to the bottom of Group C and out of European competition for the season.
Pep Guardiola made eight changes from the side beaten 2-1 at home by Manchester United on Saturday to leave the English champions 14 points off the top of the Premier League table with Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne among those left on the bench.
Derby defeat meant City had won just two of their previous seven games in all competitions and another poor night beckoned when Damian Kadzior’s cross was brilliantly smashed past Claudio Bravo by Olmo, despite the Chilean goalkeeper getting a hand to it.
City have now kept just one clean sheet in 12 games, but instead of exploiting the weaknesses in the visitors’ defence, Zagreb sat on their lead and were punished as Guardiola’s men took control of the game.
Dominik Livakovic parried a warning shot from Ilkay Gundogan before City’s pressure told with an equaliser 11 minutes ahead of half-time.
Dinamo were unhappy play was not stopped as they had a man down injured, but City were within their rights to play on and Jesus rose highest to head home Riyad Mahrez’s cross.