Jurgen Klopp admitted success helped Champions League titleholders Liverpool attract players, but it also made completing signings harder.

While they hold a 19-point lead atop the Premier League, Liverpool have been linked with moves for numerous players, including RB Leipzig star Timo Werner.

Klopp is unfazed by suggestions his team are the world's best, but said it could help with signings.

"It's easier if players see you as that. If they see you are successful, it's easier to get into talks with players," he told UK newspapers.

"But on the other side, it's more difficult the better your team is because they ask questions like, 'where and when would I play?'

"We need players who want to be part of this, who want to fight for their spot, who want to make the next step together with us, who want to develop and improve so that's it.

"We have these players and whoever wants to join us needs to have exactly this kind of attitude."

Liverpool are still unbeaten in the Premier League ahead of hosting West Ham at Anfield on Monday.

Klopp said finding the right players to add to his side, who were Champions League winners last season, was difficult.

"The age group of the team is good in the moment. In two or three years, maybe it'll be different but for the moment, it's good," he said.

"It depends on what you want. Is it a good age for selling? Probably not. But is it a good age for performing? Yes.

"So there are a lot of things we have to think about. It's an interesting period."

Pep Guardiola labelled Real Madrid the kings of the Champions League as the former Barcelona boss prepares to lead his Manchester City side against the club he wants to emulate.

City travel to the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday for their Champions League last-16 first-leg clash with Zinedine Zidane's Madrid and Guardiola highlighted the relative inexperience of his players when it comes to winning European titles.

Madrid emerged as champions in four of the last six editions of the Champions League and have retained many of the players who spearheaded those triumphs, while Claudio Bravo and Scott Carson are the only City players to have won the competition.

City manager Guardiola cast aside his intense rivalry with Madrid, which dates back to his time as Barca head coach, and told reporters: "I have an incredible admiration for this club.

"The players who have played there have played so many times in the [Champions League] final and I don't know how many times each one has lifted it.

"Maybe Claudio [Bravo] has won the Champions League and someone else. We don't have many players who have won it. But we need the desire to win it and be ourselves, We could win it or lose it.

"But we must be ourselves in the 180 minutes against Real Madrid. It is the real, real test."

Madrid face City having failed to win either of their last two matches and Zidane's men will be under pressure to recover from a 1-0 LaLiga defeat at Levante on Saturday.

In contrast, City go into the game on the back of two straight Premier League wins without conceding a goal, but Guardiola said Madrid's historic success in the Champions League would be a factor in the tie.

"You have players who come to Madrid and pull on the shirt, they know they are defending their history," said Guardiola, who won the Champions League twice as coach of Barcelona. "That makes an extra thing. Not just the spectators and media.

"They are the club we want to emulate and imitate and we have to be there. I want to go there and at the end of the game I want to say 'we were what we are'. This is the most important thing in these types of competitions.

"We need to go and try and do it at one of the biggest, nicest and most prestigious stadiums. After that, we will try with our weapons and try to score the goals. If we cannot, we will congratulate them and try and improve for the next time.

"For us being here is exciting, so good and we will try to do our best, knowing we play against a team who have won 13 Champions Leagues and it is a king."

Bruno Fernandes' performance in Manchester United's 3-0 victory over Watford drew comparisons with Paul Scholes and Juan Sebastian Veron, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer underlined the Portugal international's quality.

Solskjaer recalled Veron's ability to thread long-range passes and Scholes' technique after Fernandes scored United's opening goal and had a hand in strikes from Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood.

The victory was Fernandes' first at Old Trafford following his transfer from Sporting CP, and Solskjaer said his displays since joining the club had eased the attacking-midfield problems within the squad.

"In today's market I think we got a good deal," Solskjaer told reporters. "He has come in, done really well and given everyone a boost.

"It means more than just getting a player in. You can see the supporters are used to players with that personality, mentality and quality. He's been a big plus.

"From day one and, first minute, [he] felt like a presence in the group. First training session, demanding the ball. Some players take some time in warming up, but he felt confident straight away.

"It is a bit of a mix between Scholes and Veron. To be fair, he's got the temperament of Veron and a lot of the quality of Scholesy. He is a box-to-box midfielder. He can do everything a midfielder can do, similar to Veron and Scholes.

"One of the good things about him is he risks the ball like Veron did. I used to love playing with Seba [Veron] because you could make runs and you'll get the ball. And if he doesn't hit you, at least he's looking for you."

Midfield creativity has been an issue for Solskjaer this season, particularly due to Paul Pogba's lengthy injury lay-off and Jesse Lingard's struggle for form.

The United boss said Fernandes would not be limited to the advanced role behind the forwards, but indicated the club had recruited a key figure in his plans for the future.

"He is here now and he is one of the pieces that we are trying to put together," said Solskjaer. "He is a big piece in it and an important piece, because we are getting towards the business end of the field.

"We have spent with Harry [Maguire] and Aaron [Wan-Bissaka], who have done fantastically, and now we have got this number 10 or attacking midfield role nailed down. Hopefully he'll keep fit and keep producing performances.

"Some games he will play in a two, some games as an attacking midfielder, some games as a 10. He has played every position in midfield.

"He is going to be a very important part and is coming in to be a very important player for us because we've needed that type of player."

Andre Gomes was thrilled to return for Everton and thanked well-wishers after making his comeback from an awful ankle injury.

The Portuguese midfielder, formerly of Barcelona, was seriously hurt by a challenge with Tottenham's Son Heung-min in early November.

A fractured dislocation required surgery, and Gomes was emotional weeks later when he revealed the messages of support he had received.

Yet just 112 days after he needed oxygen while being carried off the pitch at Goodison Park, Gomes was back on duty in Sunday's Premier League clash at Arsenal.

He came off the bench just before the hour mark and provided fresh impetus as Everton chased the game from 3-2 down.

They could not muster an equaliser and left Emirates Stadium empty-handed, but Gomes' introduction came as a huge plus point for the visitors.

Manager Carlo Ancelotti confirmed he wanted to start with Gomes, who was reluctant.

Ancelotti confirmed he now intends to play Gomes from the first minute against Manchester United next Sunday.

"Actually, I need to thank everybody," Gomes said, reflecting on his road to recovery.

"The team, they were great. My supporters – Evertonians – and also in general, football supporters, everyone has been wonderful with me.

"Also, other players, other professional players, ex-professional players as well.

"It gives confidence obviously and you feel like you have the support of the people and I just pushed myself to my limit.

"I wanted to be back as soon as possible and I'm glad I had the help of everybody around me."

Former Liverpool midfield hardman Graeme Souness praised Gomes for the way he got immediately stuck in, with a late yellow card for a feisty challenge proof of his returning physical confidence.

"He got them on the front foot," Sky pundit Souness said. "He was making cute and clever passes. He's moving the same as I remember him.

"He might need five games, he might need four games, to get up to speed. But you wouldn't accuse him of not being up to speed today.

"He was great for half an hour and it's onwards and upwards for him. The biggest thing is there was no change in his gait, the way he ran."

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta hopes he can persuade Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to stay with the club after the striker's double secured a thrilling 3-2 win over Everton.

The former Borussia Dortmund frontman is 30 and has been linked with other clubs, including Inter and Barcelona, as he approaches the final year of his contract.

With only a slim chance of Arsenal qualifying for next season's Champions League, it would not be surprising if Aubameyang were questioning where he will spend the final peak years of his career.

But the Gunners see him as a big part of their future, and his clinical double against Everton was further proof of his value to the team, according to Arteta.

"He's our most important player," Arteta told Sky Sports News. "Stats-wise, there's no questions about the impact he has with this team, so as much as I can and the club can, we will try to convince him to stay with us."

Arteta saluted his team's spirit after they made it three wins in a week, having beaten Newcastle United 4-0 last Sunday and landed a 1-0 victory at Olympiacos on Thursday in the Europa League.

Aubameyang scored what proved to be the winner just 24 seconds into the second half.

"The best thing is the spirit we showed. That's coming back from Europe, three games in seven days, conceding a goal in the first minute, the way we reacted," Arteta said.

"The way we played for 60-65 minutes was exactly what I want from my team.

"And the resilience some of the players showed when they were absolutely knackered, and they kept going and going and going – this is exactly what I want."

Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti criticised his team for allowing Arsenal's forwards such glaring goal chances, with Eddie Nketiah volleying a close-range leveller before Aubameyang plundered his brace, all after Dominic Calvert-Lewin had put them ahead in the first minute.

"I think the performance offensively was good, really good, we had a lot of opportunities. Defensively, it was really poor," Ancelotti said. "We conceded three goals and it's not acceptable to concede three goals. If you concede three goals like this, normally you lose the game.

"When we were able to score at the end of the first half we knew because they played on Thursday that they could lose energy at the end.

"They lost energy, but we were 3-2 down. We had opportunities to score but we conceded three goals too easily.

"The forwards played really well. We had two fantastic strikers and the full-backs pushed in the second half when there was more space.

"Offensively we were really good; defensively, no. We are [moving] in the right direction but these are mistakes where you have to learn."

Ancelotti indicated he had wanted to start with Andre Gomes in midfield, but the Portuguese playmaker was not in favour of playing from the off after returning from the ankle injury he sustained against Tottenham in November.

"When Andre came in, the team improved a lot with the possession," Ancelotti said.

"I have seen him in training. He trained without problem. I was sure he could play from the beginning. He was not so sure to start. He will start the next game."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was at his Sunday best to deliver a 3-2 victory for Arsenal in a Premier League thriller against Everton.

The forward’s double followed a close-range volley from Eddie Nketiah as Arsenal fended off an Everton side who lost for just the second time in the league under Carlo Ancelotti.

Everton stunned Emirates Stadium with a first-minute opener from Dominic Calvert-Lewin and also scored through Richarlison in stoppage time at the end of the first half.

But they were rocked by Aubameyang putting Arsenal back in front just 24 seconds into the second half, and despite a heartening return to action for Andre Gomes, the Toffees finished without reward.

Aubameyang's heroics took his Premier League goals haul to 32 in 38 games played on Sundays, compared to a more modest 17 in 36 matches on all other days.

Everton made a dream start thanks to Calvert-Lewin's overhead kick.

David Luiz flunked an attempted headed clearance from Gylfi Sigurdsson's free-kick as the ball reached the heart of the Arsenal penalty area, and it looped up perfectly for Everton's number nine.

Arsenal lost left-back Sead Kolasinac to an early arm injury but had buccaneering teenager Bukayo Saka as an ideal replacement.

The hosts perked up and it was Saka who provided the delicious left-wing cross that Nketiah volleyed in from close range for a 27th-minute leveller, his second Premier League goal.

Aubameyang then snuck behind the Everton defence to meet a fine throughball from David Luiz - the defender demonstrating one of his more reliable attributes - to nudge the Gunners in front six minutes later.

Everton made it 2-2 just before the break when Sigurdsson's mis-hit shot was headed on by Yerry Mina, and Richarlison, booked moments earlier after diving in late on Dani Ceballos, scrambled past goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

But Arsenal were back in front early in the second half when Aubameyang met Nicolas Pepe's cross from the right and thundered a downwards header past Jordan Pickford.

Just before the hour mark, Everton introduced Gomes off the bench in place of Morgan Schneiderlin, giving the former Barcelona midfielder his first outing since the shocking ankle dislocation he suffered against Tottenham in November.

Arsenal, coming off a long trip to Greece for Thursday's Europa League clash with Olympiacos, looked to be tiring. Calvert-Lewin should have put Everton level but Leno made a fine block to thwart the striker, and Mikel Arteta's side hung on for the points.

They almost had a fourth goal when Nketiah struck the bar after a Pickford error, though were relieved to see a late Calvert-Lewin header drift wide of the target.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said the arrival of Bruno Fernandes at Manchester United has "given everyone a boost" after the midfielder scored his first goal for the club in a 3-0 victory over Watford at Old Trafford.

Fernandes was outstanding throughout on Sunday as United clinched a second consecutive victory in a run of three unbeaten Premier League matches and moved them up to fifth in the table.

After scoring from the penalty spot to give United the lead, Fernandes created the opening for Anthony Martial to score their second and got the assist that teed up Mason Greenwood for a stunning third.

Solskjaer later paid tribute to the 25-year-old's pace and his uplifting effect on the Red Devils squad after he followed up an impressive outing in Monday's 2-0 win over Chelsea.

"Bruno Fernandes is quicker than he looks," the United manager told BBC Sport.

"[We're] very excited by having him in. He has come in, given everyone a boost and wants to conduct a game."

Solskjaer continued: "[Bruno] loves playing football, he wants the ball, he's got the personality and character to demand it all the time, wanting to take the penalty.

"He takes it the way he does to show he is a Man United character, not just a very, very good footballer."

"[It was] a very good win, two good wins and two clean sheets, some goals to celebrate. Now, we want to kick on," added Solskjaer, whose side entertain Club Brugge in the Europa League on Thursday ahead of their trip to Everton in the Premier League three days later.

"There are big games coming up now."

United defender Luke Shaw said the victory had given his team-mates hope of catching Chelsea and qualifying for next season's Champions League.

Chelsea are fourth in the table, three points clear of United, after following up their loss to the Red Devils with a 2-1 victory over Tottenham.

Shaw told Sky Sports: "We got what we needed and that was three points. Let's keep pushing.

"The most important thing is we closed the gap to Chelsea.

"This club is known for playing in the big competitions. We all miss the Champions League nights so much – that is what we want next season.

"We need to fight and earn it."

Bruno Fernandes is determined to propel Manchester United back into the Champions League after he scored his first goal for the club in an impressive 3-0 victory over Watford at Old Trafford.

The Portugal international was inspirational for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side on Sunday, scoring their first from the penalty spot and then having a hand in goals for Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood as the Red Devils moved up to fifth in the Premier League table.

Fernandes, who sent Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster the wrong way with a skip in his run-up, was delighted to get a first home triumph with his new club – and hopes there are plenty more to come this season.

"This is the day every player wants to have," Fernandes said. "I had the luck to score and win the game. We all gave our best and gave an excellent game, finally my first win at home.

"Everyone knows we want to take a Champions League place. It's not new for anybody. I'm just here to help the team to conquer this place and keep winning games."

On his penalty technique, he added: "It's the way I shoot a penalty. I feel confident shooting this way. I don't shoot just in that way but today I think it was the best way to score, so I just tried and was lucky enough to score."

Fernandes aimed a friendly dig at team-mate Martial, who denied him an assist in the process of scoring United's second.

Martial received the ball from Fernandes and fired a shot that Foster saved, only for the France international to chip the ball beyond the keeper at the second attempt.

Fernandes did set up Greenwood to score with a rocket of a shot, and he pointed out that it could easily have been two assists.

"I hope Anthony scores more goals when I pass the ball to him and not him miss the goal and take the ball again, because if he scores it's two assists," said Fernandes.

"Last week he said he never scores on my assist, but I think it's not my fault!"

He added: "I just need to help the team. This is what I want to do and what I need to do."

Diogo Jota capped an excellent week in front of goal with a double as Wolves boosted their Champions League aspirations with a 3-0 win over bottom club Norwich City.

Jota was on target with a hat-trick in Wolves' 4-0 victory over Espanyol in the Europa League on Thursday.

The forward opened the scoring after 19 minutes at Molineux on Sunday, firing in a low finish on the turn after being teed up by Matt Doherty.

His second came 11 minutes later as he tapped in from Romain Saiss' low cross.

Tim Krul produced heroics to turn Ruben Neves' free-kick onto the bar before the interval but he could do nothing to prevent Raul Jimenez from making it 3-0 on the rebound after Jota had struck the post.

Wolves are eighth, two points behind Manchester United, who occupy fifth, which would be good enough for the Champions League following Manchester City's two-season ban from European competition.

Nuno Espirito Santo's men gained ground on Tottenham and Sheffield United after both dropped points on Saturday, meaning they trail that pair by just a point. Norwich, meanwhile, are still seven points adrift of safety.

Bruno Fernandes scored his first goal for Manchester United and created two more as the Red Devils extended their unbeaten run to six matches in all competitions with a 3-0 Premier League victory over Watford.

The £62million January signing from Sporting CP put in a performance that made his fee look like a bargain, winning and scoring a first-half penalty to break the deadlock against a battling Watford team before creating superbly taken goals from Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood.

United survived some nervous moments and Watford had an equaliser ruled out for handball before Martial doubled their advantage, but the invention and craft of Fernandes has given Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men an edge they lacked for so much of this season.

Defeat leaves Watford in the relegation zone and without a win in six matches in all competitions, but manager Nigel Pearson will take some comfort from a strong attacking performance that might have delivered a different outcome but for some poor finishing.

Troy Deeney might have put Watford ahead after three minutes when Nemanja Matic and Harry Maguire allowed Victor Lindelof's blocked pass to run through to the Hornets captain, but he hesitated, and Luke Shaw dispossessed him just in time.

Abdoulaye Doucoure hit the side-netting from a tight angle as Watford continued to prise open a faltering United defence and, when the hosts countered, Aaron Wan-Bissaka missed from 12 yards after Ben Foster parried Dan James' angled drive.

The pace of the game slowed before exploding into life five minutes before half-time when Fernandes burst into the Watford box where Ben Foster sent him sprawling, and the Portuguese midfielder's hopping run-up and cool low finish put United ahead from the spot.

Watford had the ball in the net five minutes after the restart when Maguire lashed it into the roof of his own net under pressure from Deeney, but Craig Dawson playing the ball with his arm in the build-up meant the goal was ruled out.

Six minutes later, Fernandes turned provider, threading a pass through to Martial whose drag-back fooled Etienne Capoue before his immaculate chip saw him beat Foster at the second attempt.

United's third was the pick of the goals, Greenwood starting a move that ended with Fernandes rolling the ball to him just inside the box and he cracked an unstoppable shot into the top corner of the net off the frame of the goal.

Solskjaer sent on Odion Ighalo for his home United debut against his former club and he hit the post six minutes from time but by then the game was comfortably won as hopes of a possible Champions League return continued to grow around Old Trafford.

 

What does it mean?

One win in three home league matches hardly feels like great form but United are just three points behind fourth-place Chelsea, while Watford, who are 19th, remain one point adrift of safety and still without a league win at Old Trafford in their history.

Fernandes brings out United's best

The arrival of Fernandes has given the likes of James and Greenwood a creative lynchpin and, after showing his finishing prowess, the 25-year-old brought the best out of Martial and Greenwood.

Deeney made to rue early miss

Sluggish and sloppy in the opening 20 minutes, Deeney eventually grew into the game but only after he had missed Watford's best chance of the game.

What's next?

Watford host champions elect Liverpool at Vicarage Road on Saturday before United's trip to Everton on Sunday. The Red Devils are in Europa League action against Club Brugge at Old Trafford three days earlier.

Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger claims "racism has won" after he was booed by Tottenham supporters during Saturday's Premier League match at Stamford Bridge.

Rudiger reported he was racially abused in the December 22 trip to Tottenham, but an investigation conducted by Spurs proved "inconclusive" and police could find no evidence to support the complaint.

The German was appalled to also be targeted by a number of visiting fans in the second league meeting between the teams in 2019-20.

Rudiger said the failure of authorities to find a culprit for his previous allegation meant he had become cast to some as a "bogeyman" figure.

The 26-year-old told German broadcaster Sky Sport after Saturday's match: "Racism has won. They want to make us believe, 'You have no voice'. That's how I see it. Then also thanks to the media, who naturally pushed it that way, nobody was found and such things, the case is closed.

"And that's why you get booed in the end because you raise your voice. So I say: racism has won."

The defender was disheartened that nobody was held culpable for the abuse he heard in the December match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

"This shows that these people win wherever. They can go back to the stadium," Rudiger said.

"It doesn't have to be me, it can be someone else. They will not be punished and at the end of the day I am the bogeyman."

Rudiger vowed he would not be silenced and pledged to continue making his voice heard on matters of discrimination, linking his concerns to the experience of becoming a father last Thursday.

"It is a catastrophe. One day my child will highly probably suffer because of the way we are today," Rudiger said.

Rudiger was asked about the shisha bar shooting deaths in Hanau which occurred on Wednesday, with a number of the victims reported to be of Turkish and Kurdish descent and the attack being treated as far-right terrorism.

He related that to incidents of racism in German football which have seen Hertha Berlin's Jordan Torunarigha and Wurzburg's Leroy Kwadwo targeted for abuse.

Speaking of Hanau, Rudiger said: "For me, this is the end product. First Torunarigha, then Kwadwo and then there are dead people."

Timo Werner has once again spoken positively about a potential move to Liverpool, labelling Jurgen Klopp the "best coach in the world".

RB Leipzig forward Werner has been heavily linked with a switch to Anfield after starring in his club's push for a maiden Bundesliga title.

The 23-year-old, who has scored 27 goals for Leipzig in all competitions this season, said on Wednesday he was "very proud" to be linked with European champions Liverpool.

Werner has now talked up the runaway Premier League leaders once again after scoring in a 5-0 thrashing of Schalke on Saturday, a victory that kept Leipzig just a point behind Bundesliga front-runners Bayern Munich. 

"Jurgen Klopp is the best coach in the world," Werner told Sky Germany.

"There is a lot to suggest that my style of play would suit there [Liverpool]."

The Germany international did insist his focus was strictly on his current club for the remainder of the campaign.

"I'm not worried about that [a move to Liverpool], because we have so much to do with Leipzig," he added.

"It's difficult to think about where to play next year. You have to worry about it after the season. Inquiries come in, you don't have to lie that it is so."

After dominating European football for over a decade, could Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo shelve their rivalry and come together as team-mates?

David Beckham might be the man to make it happen.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder appears to have ambitious plans for his new MLS franchise.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI, RONALDO WANTED AT INTER MIAMI

Barcelona captain Messi, 32, and Juventus talisman Ronaldo, 35, will end their careers on the same side if Inter Miami co-owner Beckham gets his wish, according to the Mirror.

The newspaper claims the new MLS outfit are "already thinking big" and could look to lure football's two biggest superstars to the United States.

LA Galaxy have also been linked with a move for Messi but Minnesota United head coach Adrian Heath believes Beckham's pulling power has the potential to create a dream attacking duo.

“For Ronaldo and Messi, the two obvious destinations if they came to the MLS would be Los Angeles and Miami," Heath told the Mirror.

"And, with his links to both players and the plan Beckham and his backers have in place, I can really only see them going to Miami."

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United are set to launch a £50million bid for Wolves forward Diogo Jota, scorer of a Europa League hat-trick on Thursday, reports the Express.

- United have also been linked with Birmingham City teenager Jude Bellingham but the Red Devils are set to face competition from Liverpool, according to the Daily Star.

- Serie A leaders Juventus are at the front of the queue for Paul Pogba but Paris Saint-Germain also hope to land the French star, reports Le10 Sport.

- PSG, meanwhile, are planning for life after Thomas Tuchel, who is said to be in talks with Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich. L'Equipe claims the Ligue 1 champions could look to replace him with either Massimiliano Allegri or Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi.

- Premier League clubs Sheffield United, Wolves and Burnley are showing interest in Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips, suggests the Sun.

Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers insisted his side were denied a "clear penalty" in Saturday's 1-0 defeat to Manchester City at the King Power Stadium.

The hosts had a couple of appeals turned down in the first half for Ederson's challenge on Kelechi Iheanacho and a possible handball against Kevin De Bruyne.

Whereas De Bruyne got away with blocking James Maddison's free-kick with his arm, the officials pointed to the spot at the other end for a similar incident involving Dennis Praet.

Rodgers agreed referee Paul Tierney was right to award the visitors a penalty, which Sergio Aguero failed to convert, but felt Leicester should also have been given one of their own.

"[Praet] has gone to block it and it's a penalty - we accept that. But you hope you get them for you as well," he told Sky Sports.

"But we're disappointed we didn't get a penalty - it's so clear. I felt it was the reason VAR was brought in. 

"The ball was going towards the goal, the corner, and Kevin De Bruyne stops it. He's lifted his arms up. 

"If you look at the reaction of the other players in the wall, their hands were down. It's handball."

Kasper Schmeichel kept the champions at bay for large parts of the game by producing a string of fine saves, including a penalty save to frustrate Aguero.

City have now missed their last four top-flight penalties, each by a different player, but they were rescued by substitute Gabriel Jesus' late strike three minutes after he was introduced.

"They are incredibly quick with Jamie Vardy, Harvey Barnes and Kelechi," Guardiola said at his post-match news conference.

"It was an incredible test for us. I'm so pleased for the victory."

Guardiola's side face Real Madrid on Wednesday for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie and the Catalan coach has been handed a big fitness boost.

Raheem Sterling has missed City's last two games with a hamstring injury, while Aymeric Laporte left the field early in the second half against Leicester, but both men could feature in Madrid.

"[Laporte] asked me to be substituted, but he's not injured," Guardiola said.

"He's been four months, five months injured, we can't forget that. He had to run a lot. It was different against West Ham, we could control it easier. But he's okay.

"Raheem is also much, much, much better. I think he'll be ready."

After Gabriel Jesus saw a penalty saved in a 1-0 win at Sheffield United in January, Pep Guardiola identified goalkeeper Ederson as Manchester City's best spot-kick option.

"Ederson is the best. Believe me, Eddie is the best taker we have on the penalties," said the City boss last month.

"He has no blood in his brains, he's so calm, so he could do it."

With Sergio Aguero seeing an effort from 12 yards stopped by Kasper Schmeichel in City's 1-0 victory at Leicester City on Saturday, Guardiola may now have to consider passing the duties to his keeper.

City have failed with four of their seven penalties in the Premier League this season, and here we reflect on their struggles in 2019-20.

August 10, 2019: Sergio Aguero v West Ham - SCORED

There were signs of what was to come for City from the spot this season even in an opening-day 5-0 win. Aguero netted City's fourth from 12 yards, but only after referee Mike Dean had ordered a retake for encroachment, Lukasz Fabianski having saved his tame initial effort.

September 21, 2019: Sergio Aguero v Watford - SCORED

Aguero needed no second invitation in City's 8-0 thrashing of Watford, scoring the second goal with a confident low penalty struck straight down the middle after team-mate Riyad Mahrez had been fouled by visiting goalkeeper Ben Foster.

December 21, 2019: Ilkay Gundogan v Leicester City - SCORED

Schmeichel was unfortunate not to deny Gundogan in the reverse fixture at the Etihad Stadium, the Germany international just beating his outstretched arm to find the bottom-right corner and put the reigning league champions 2-1 up in an eventual 3-1 win prior to Christmas.

December 27, 2019: Raheem Sterling v Wolves - MISSED

The start of City's dreadful recent run of missed penalties began in a thrilling 3-2 defeat at Molineux. Sterling was given a second chance after Rui Patricio kept out his first attempt, with a retake ordered. The Portugal keeper denied him again, only for Sterling to tuck away the rebound.

January 21, 2020: Gabriel Jesus v Sheffield United - MISSED

The failure that sparked Guardiola's Ederson remarks saw Brazil international Jesus thwarted, Dean Henderson – on loan at the Blades from Manchester United, of course – moved to his right to palm clear with a diving, two-handed save.

February 2, 2020: Ilkay Gundogan v Tottenham - MISSED

Gundogan went for the same formula that saw him score against Leicester, but Hugo Lloris went low to his left to deny him in the first half, with claims for another penalty after the France international felled Sterling in pursuit of the rebound rejected following a VAR review.

February 22, 2020 Sergio Aguero v Leicester City - MISSED

Aguero placed the ball on the spot at the King Power Stadium after Dennis Praet was adjudged to have handled in the area. However, Schmeichel got the better of the Argentina striker, marking his fourth Premier League penalty save, one more than famous father Peter recorded while playing in the same competition.

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