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Pellegrini hails Iheanacho following Palace rout

On his first senior start, it’s fair to say that Kelechi Iheanacho took his opportunity with both hands.

A goal and two assists were enough to take the Man of the Match honours in City’s 5-1 win over Crystal Palace, and to win his manager’s approval.

Manuel Pellegrini revealed that he was delighted for the young Nigerian and warned that he will get even better in the coming years.

“It was very important for Kelechi to demonstrate once again that he’s a very good player,” the manager said.

“He’s not just a striker – he provided two assists - I’m very happy for him. He has things to improve but he’s working in the correct way.

“I had no doubt in him – I see how he works every day and his personality is important and it’s important for him to play with important players.

“Kelechi is not a box striker, he’s not just a finisher - he must improve his control as he needs to do it better but he always plays with his head up as he showed creating the goal for Kevin.

“After that, with more space for Manu Garcia. He’s a player who can play behind the striker or as a striker and he can arrive into the box to score the goals as he did tonight.”

On a night where Wilfried Bony also notched his third goal in three starts at the Etihad, Manuel had plenty to be positive about from an attacking standpoint.

Kelechi took most of the post-match plaudits but the Chilean took the time to praise his Ivorian striker and said that the win was proof that the pair could play together, as well as separately.

“I think this moment it’s important for the team to have Kelechi and Bony as options without Kun,” Pellegrini declared.

“They can play both together as they did tonight. Bony played well tonight. Of course Kelechi was very impressive but Wilfried is quiet as he knows he has my trust and his teammates' trust.

“Kun is impossible to replace but we know we have another option in attack.”

The only sour note on an otherwise perfect Wednesday night at the Etihad Stadium was the injury to Pablo Zabaleta.

Manuel could not give a detailed prognosis so soon after the Argentine full-back was stretchered off but he did reveal that the injury was on the same knee Pablo injured at the start of the season.

“Pablo has the same problem as two months ago – it’s the same knee. We won’t know until tomorrow [the extent]," he added.

“It’s the medial ligament on the right knee.”


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