EPL

Guardiola lauds 'exceptional' Bernardo Silva after slender Man City win at Leicester

By Sports Desk September 11, 2021

Pep Guardiola hailed match-winner Bernardo Silva after Manchester City made it three wins on the bounce on Saturday.

Silva was the standout performer as City beat Leicester City 1-0 at the King Power Stadium to sit one point behind Premier League pacesetters Manchester United.

The Portugal playmaker scored the decisive goal in the 62nd minute, had two other attempts on target and created three chances, behind only Ilkay Gundogan and Jack Grealish (both four).

Silva had been expected to leave City in the recent transfer window, with Guardiola confirming in August that the 27-year-old was hoping to find a new club.

Yet with no suitors coming in, Silva has nevertheless kept up his level over the early part of the season, filling in for the injured Kevin De Bruyne in midfield and often working in tandem with £100million man Grealish.

"Bernardo is back in the best form and mentality. He is an exceptional player and we know it," Guardiola told Sky Sports.

Expanding further in his news conference, Guardiola said: "He [Bernardo] played really well the last two games. Again today the connection with Jack and Joao Cancelo was brilliant.

"In general, it was all of them. We had the quality to put the ball in the right spots. 

"I like to have one or two players in the side who go to the natural side. So when Grealish plays right and Gundo plays right, they have to turn. When Bernardo plays with Jack he can make a cross. We need some on their natural side."

With City failing in their pursuits of Harry Kane and Cristiano Ronaldo – who netted twice on his second United debut on Saturday – Guardiola is without an out-and-out centre-forward, though the Premier League champions have still scored 11 goals across their last three matches.

Nine players have been responsible, and Guardiola insisted sharing the goals around has to be the way forward for City this term.

"We score the last 11 goals from nine different players," he continued. "It's the only way to sustain our level. 

"We played really well from the first minute. After the international break, you always have doubts. We were a high level again for three weeks in a row. We had many chances and could have scored more goals. This is a step we still need to take."

City had 25 shots to Leicester's six, dominating the Foxes, who thrashed them on the road last season and also won the Community Shield game last month.

"What can I say? The keeper is the best player of the Leicester team because we did many, many good things," reflected Guardiola.

"You have to be patient. Of course I'm happy with the three points. Our performance was outstanding.

"Leicester, like the last years, have always been fighting until the end. I'm very pleased. If you are able to score or shoot, I don't know how many, it is because you are doing very good things. Kasper Schmeichel is an incredible keeper and saves these goals."

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    Jurgen Klopp has suggested star forward Mohamed Salah wants to end his career at Liverpool following the Reds' 5-0 thrashing of rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford.

    Liverpool romped to a big win in Manchester with Salah hitting a hat-trick and grabbing an assist for Naby Keita, with Diogo Jota also getting on the scoresheet.

    Liverpool head coach Klopp was full of praise for Salah, who became the first away player to score a hat-trick at Old Trafford since Ronaldo did so for Real Madrid in the Champions League in April 2003, while he is only the second player to do so while playing for Liverpool after Fred Howe in November 1936. 

    "The fifth goal, Mo was there to get the goals and he deals with the fuss that everyone makes around him," Klopp said to Sky Sports. "He enjoys his football and long, long, long, may it continue. I knew already (he wants to end his career here), I know the situation."

    Klopp was also stunned by the manner of his side's win and hailed their clinical performance after the Reds recorded their largest margin of victory against United since October 1895, winning 7-1 at Anfield. It was also Liverpool's greatest margin of victory in the fixture away from home. 

    The German also explained that the Reds intentionally eased off at 5-0 to lower the risk of further injuries after James Milner was forced off early and Keita was carried off on a stretcher after a two-footed tackle from Paul Pogba that saw the Frenchman sent off.

    "What can I say? Did I expect that? No," Klopp continued. "What we did in the last third was insane. Pressing high, winning balls, scoring wonderful goals. I told them at half-time to play better.

    "We started incredibly well and stopped playing football. We controlled the game after the fifth, it was not about scoring more, just trying to get out without more injuries.

    "The result is insane, I asked if there was one like this in history and if there isn't then it will take a while. The players put a nice piece in the book. It is special but we don't celebrate like crazy, we have respect for the opponents. We were lucky in some moments, United are not in their best moment.

    "Three points against a real opponent but you have to understand these games right. We got lost against Aston Villa and you have to learn off it. We smashed Crystal Palace once and the results are not interesting. I analyse the games, we can play better football and have to concentrate more.

    "I couldn't be happier, it is exceptional. Absolutely outstanding. I have a few defeats in my mind which was not necessary but we won today so we drink beer on the way home.

    "James Milner has a hamstring, he showed me something was not right. Naby Keita we have to see, a full-throttle [tackle] on the shin."

    Salah spoke of the Reds' title ambitions after becoming the top-scoring African player in Premier League history, his 107 goals taking him clear of Didier Drogba's 104, while also becoming the first-ever Liverpool player to score in three consecutive away games against United in all competitions.

    "I think it is great to win 5-0 here, we knew before the game it would be tough if we did not play our game," Salah said to Sky Sports. "We knew they will come and try to give everything so we had to give 100 per cent.

    "As long as the team keep winning I am happy and to give my best to the team to win. We know what it takes to win the Premier League, we did it two years ago. A big win here but still only three points.

    "We try to win each game and try to win the title. We need to play to win everything. From our heads from pre-season, we need to win the Premier League and hopefully, we go for that."

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    United's poor start to the season hit a potential nadir on Sunday as Liverpool ran riot at Old Trafford.

    Mohamed Salah became the first Premier League player to score an away hat-trick against United, with Naby Keita and Diogo Jota having put Jurgen Klopp's team in control inside the opening 15 minutes.

    Paul Pogba came on from the bench for a calamitous 15-minute cameo in which he conceded possession for Salah's hat-trick goal before seeing red for a lunge on Keita, though United at least managed to keep the Reds out while down to 10.

    Having seen their team go into half-time 4-0 down for the first time in a Premier League game, United's fans let their feelings known as the players and Solskjaer walked off, and the atmosphere hardly improved after the final whistle.

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    "It is not easy to say something apart from it is the darkest day I have had leading these players," a dejected Solskjaer told Sky Sports.

    "We were not good enough individually and as a team, can't give a team like Liverpool those chances but unfortunately we did.

    "The whole performance was not good enough. We created openings, they had chances and they have been clinical. The third goal decided the game."

    Asked who had to take responsibility, Solskjaer replied: "It is mine, that is it. The coaching staff are very, very good, brilliant.

    "I choose the way we approach the game, we were not clinical enough and gave too much space and when you give good players space they score."

    United decided to try and press Liverpool from the off, a tactic that swiftly proved naive, though Solskjaer did not regret his approach. 

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    He added: "I have come too far, we have come too far as a group. We are too close to give up now.

    "It is going to be a difficult one. The players will be low but there's loads of characters there. We know we are rock bottom, we can't feel any worse than this. Let's see where we take it."

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    Manchester United captain Harry Maguire has apologised to the club's supporters after their humiliating 5-0 defeat to rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday.

    Mohamed Salah plundered a hat-trick after Naby Keita and Diogo Jota had put Liverpool into a 2-0 lead inside 15 minutes, while substitute Paul Pogba was dismissed on a dark day for United.

    The result was United's heaviest ever defeat at home to Liverpool, and it is the first time they have lost to-nil by five or more goals at home since February 1955 (5-0 v Man City).

    The defeat follows last weekend's 4-2 loss at Leicester City and leaves Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side eight points adrift of Premier League leaders Chelsea.

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    "We apologise to the fans, it was nowhere near good enough for this club," he told Sky Sports. "They stuck with us right to the end and we appreciate that but as a club we have to do better.

    "I am so disappointed; we gave them so many chances. They were so clinical, we had a lot of chances ourselves but I am a defender and to concede four in the first half, especially at Old Trafford, is nowhere near good enough.

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    "We have to stick together, there is no point blaming each other but look at ourselves. Look in the mirror when we go home tonight and think where we can do better.

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    Asked if it was too strong to say the result was embarrassing, Maguire responded: "Not really. The term I'd use is not good enough. I look at those lads each day in training and we are working hard as we can but at the moment it is not good enough.

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