Football

Guardiola hails de Bruyne as the 'complete player'

Belgian plays instrumental role as City tear Liverpool apart

Pep Guardiola said Manchester City were lucky to have Kevin de Bruyne after the Belgium midfielder inspired his team to a resounding 5-0 victory over Premier League rivals Liverpool on Saturday.

De Bruyne created goals for Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus and had a hand in one of Leroy Sane's two strikes as City recorded their biggest win over Liverpool since March 1937.

The game hinged on Liverpool forward Sadio Mane's 37th-minute dismissal for a shuddering head-high challenge on Ederson that ended the City goalkeeper's match, but Guardiola only had eyes for de Bruyne.

"Kevin is, pfff," said the City manager, puffing out his cheeks, in his post-game press conference at the Etihad Stadium.

"With his quality, his commitment without the ball. He learns, he's so intelligent. You say one instruction and he understands immediately.

"He produces a huge (number) of passes and assists. Last season, he shot 15 or 16 times against the posts. We were unlucky. Hopefully this year, he can help us.

"He's quick, he always sees the spaces on the middle or outside. He runs more than anyone else. He's good with balls to feet, he's good attacking space.

"He is a complete player. He loves to be here with us. We are a lucky team, a lucky club to have Kevin with us.

"This season, he's in a good mood, maybe because he is a father. He is one of our captains. I am so happy with his performance. And not just today."

De Bruyne's pass released Aguero to round Simon Mignolet and open the scoring in the 24th minute and his cross from the left was headed in by Jesus in first-half stoppage time.

Aguero unselfishly teed up Jesus for City's third goal and late strikes from substitute Sane, the second a glorious effort into the top-left corner, completed the rout.

Ederson was stretchered off in a neck brace after Mane caught him in the face with an outstretched right boot as he tried to latch onto Joel Matip's lofted pass behind the City defence.

But he re-emerged beside the dugout towards the end of the game, the left side of his face covered in a white dressing, and tests revealed he had not sustained any facial fractures.

Guardiola joked it would make the Brazilian "more beautiful" and said the injury would probably not sideline him for very long.

The 24-year-old sustained the injury after racing to the edge of his box to head the ball clear and Guardiola praised him for his alertness.

"We play so high, the goalkeeper has to play on the 16-metre box and help with these frontal balls," said the City manager, whose side open their Champions League campaign at Feyenoord on Thursday morning (Singapore time).

"It's so important for us to feel that we have one guy to help the central defenders. Of course, it was brave because Mane was coming. Unfortunately he's injured, but hopefully he will come back as soon as possible." - AFP

Mane says sorry to Ederson over red-card clash

Sadio Mane apologised to Ederson after the Liverpool star was sent off for an ugly clash with the Manchester City goalkeeper on Saturday.

Senegal winger Mane was shown the red card after catching Ederson in the face with a high boot during City's 5-0 win at Eastlands.

Ederson had raced out of his area to head clear a high bouncing ball when he was knocked to the ground.

He was carried off on a stretcher after receiving treatment on the field for around eight minutes.

"I hope and wish Ederson a quick recovery," Mane wrote on his Facebook page.

"I am so sorry he was hurt during our accidental collision on the pitch and am sorry for him that he could not complete the match because of it.

"I pray he heals fast and is back playing very soon!"

Former Benfica keeper Ederson was examined further by City's medical staff but did not suffer concussion and returned to the bench, wearing a dressing, before the end of the game.

The Brazilian later tweeted: "Hi, everyone - I am well. What a fright!

"It was an important win for us. We are strong. Thanks for all your messages of support."

After the game, City manager Pep Guardiola agreed with Liverpool boss Juergen Klopp's view that the challenge had been "accidental".

Football pundits, however, are divided over whether referee Jon Moss should have sent Mane off.

Said former Man United defender Gary Neville: "I don't think that is a red card.

"His eyes are on the ball, it's ridiculous. If he wins that challenge, the goal is there for him.

"It wasn't one of those where you think the goalkeeper is the favourite."

However, ex-Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher didn't agree with Neville's assessment and backed the referee's decision.

He said: "It's a red card. He had his eyes on the ball, but that doesn't mean he isn't endangering an opponent.

"He hasn't tried to do him. If anything, it's Ederson's quickness off the line that's got him sent off." - WIRE SERVICES

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