The Argentine scored just 10 minutes after coming on as a sub for Riyad Mahrez in the 3-0 win over Marseille, but the City boss has no intention of throwing him in at the deep end given his injury issues over the past six months.
Asked if he will start against United, Pep said: “No, Today, he played 25 minutes, scored a goal – so it is step by step.
“His instinct to score will always be there - he made three, four good sessions and after the training sessions reaction was good.”
Guardiola said he was happy with the way his team have played during a group stage that saw City win gather 16 out of a possible 18 points, score 13 and concede only once.
“Yeah, I’m really happy,” he said.
“Especially the way we played, all the games, no exception.
“We scored goals, we conceded just one and in general it was a good performance.
“We are in the next round and we see the teams who have qualified are incredible.
“It will be an interesting draw. Hopefully, we can arrive in a good mood.”
And on Ilkay Gundogan’s half-time substitution, he added: “Ilkay had a knock on his ankle. He played the last game 90 mins so we didn’t want to take risk. We will see tomorrow how he feels.”