Football

Guardiola hails Sterling display

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola highlighted Raheem Sterling's growing self-belief after his remarkable run of late goals continued with a superb stoppage-time winner in the 2-1 victory over Southampton.

City's quest for a 12th successive league victory seemed to be over when Oriel Romeu's 75th-minute equaliser for the Saints cancelled out Kevin de Bruyne's goal early in the second half at the Etihad Stadium yesterday morning (Singapore time).

But, in sixth minute of added-time, Sterling curled a brilliant shot into the top right-hand corner, sparking delirious scenes among City's fans, with Guardiola running onto the pitch in celebration.

City's last three victories have all been courtesy of late strikes from 22-year-old, who scored in the 88th minute against Feyenoord last week, the 84th against Huddersfield Town before his winner in the dying seconds against Southampton.

"Before, he didn't believe. Now, he can do that," said Guardiola. "In the end, he had the personality to make the action, to put the ball there in the angle. It was a real fantastic goal."

Guardiola may land in trouble with the Football Association if referee Paul Tierney reports his dash onto the field following Sterling's winner.

"I apologised to the referee," Guardiola told reporters. "He said 'you can't go there' and I said 'I know!'.

"I said 'I apologise', I couldn't control it. I was so happy, like all the fans, all the players. I wanted to run behind 'Rash' (Sterling) but I'm not fast enough!", the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager added.

The scenes that greeted Sterling's third consecutive winning goal seemed excessive for a routine Premier League fixture.

City players sprinted to the far corner to continue their celebrations, with injured French fullback Benjamin Mendy, sidelined with a cruciate knee ligament injury, even hobbling half the length of the field from the bench to join in.

"Mendy's crazy! He has a six-month injury and he's running. Disaster!," joked Guardiola. - AFP

Football