Men's Team

Guardiola delighted with second half display

IMPRESSED: Pep Guardiola liked what he saw in the second half against Crystal Palace
Pep Guardiola relished his side’s ruthlessness, as City romped to a 5-0 triumph over Crystal Palace.

City became the first side to score five or more in three consecutive top-flight games in the same season since Blackburn in the 1958/59 campaign, with a superb second half display at the Etihad Stadium.

Leroy Sane opened the scoring just before the break and created two assists as the floodgates opened in the second half.

Raheem Sterling bagged a brace, while Sergio Aguero edged closer to breaking City’s all-time goalscoring record and substitute Fabian Delph topped off the win with the pick of the bunch – a fabulous curling effort into the top corner.

The opening half an hour had proved a fairly even affair, as struggling Palace threatened on the counter-attack, with the Blues finding it difficult to find their recent rampant rhythm.

Sane’s goal restored City’s confidence and Guardiola was impressed with the way his side reverted to their best form.

“We started well in the first five or ten minutes,” he reflected. “We created good chances but after that, we forgot the ball should be moved.

“The ball was in the possession of the feel and everything was slow. We conceded [chances] on the counter-attack and anything can happen.

“If you analyse the first 30 minutes of the first half, we were not ready. Nobody took the ball and started to play. It was nine or ten seconds before anything happened. It was slow. We have to create the game, provoke the situations…

“Ten minutes before the goal, I thought: ‘now, we’ve got it.’ The tempo was quicker.


                        Guardiola delighted with second half display

“It helped a lot that we scored in the last minutes with Leroy. In the second half, we were what we have been in the last games.

“We had the right tempo and patience in the right times. The fans love quick transitions – in three seconds, you are scoring a goal. We have to move the ball quicker.

“We are not a team to wait for the set-piece or counter-attack. Nothing moves quicker than our ball. We train everyday for that.

“In the second half, the team was ready. We did not concede in possession, we moved the ball quicker, we found the right side… we did well.

“This week, we played well.”

Guardiola also expressed his delight for Man of the Match Sane’s fine form.

“He is improving at the simple things,” he continued. “Scoring is so important; creating chances, giving assists… He is a young player who can still improve.

“I have five strikers who all deserve to play. Gabriel Jesus is amazing, Bernardo Silva always creates, there’s also Raheem, Leroy and Sergio… Some of them are going to rest. I need them sharp, especially in the second half of the season.”

Guardiola also provided an update on Benjamin Mendy, who was forced off with a knee injury.

“Tomorrow, we are going to make a real test,” he stated. “Hopefully, it is just a kick. We will see the situation tomorrow.


                        Guardiola delighted with second half display

“Without Mendy, we cannot attack fluently.”

City have little time to dwell on the result, with the Champions League visit of Shakhtar Donestk on Tuesday night.

Guardiola spoke of his admiration for the Ukrainian side and urged the City faithful to help his side.

“I know Shakhtar very well from Barcelona and Bayern,” he recalled. “Every time, they had amazing players and experienced players. They are a top team and they are able to beat some of the top teams, like Napoli.

“We cannot be distracted. We have to be careful.

“Hopefully, our fans can come. We need them. We need to make a huge step in the Champions League.

“Hopefully, we can learn what we have not done well today, take it into Tuesday’s game and then to London against Chelsea.

“Hopefully, in the next games, we are going to be great, especially at home – it’s good for our confidence.

“We are still in September. I am not one to tell people not to be excited but this is a show. Fans come to see us and it’s our job [to entertain].

“[It’s about] the satisfaction to see our fans happy.

“In the Premier League, knowing how tough the competition is, it’s good to score five goals but we have less points than a year ago and you saw what happened last year…”

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