The Belgian was at his talismanic best as City hit a glut of goals at the Etihad Stadium, setting two up before completing the scoring with a fierce drive that capped a brilliant individual performance.
De Bruyne’s probing range of passing and quickness of thought ensured he was at the heart of much of our best play and afterwards, Guardiola was effusive with his praise for a player who has notched up seven assists and two goals just six games into the season.
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“Kevin sometimes is a special player,” he said.
“He sees things others cannot see on the pitch, or even off the pitch. Sometimes he frustrates me when he loses simple balls.
“How can he lose it with his quality?
“But he is an incredibly talented player, with his vision up front and the quality of his shooting.
“With Kevin it depends on his mood. Sometimes it is low but when he is happy, he's an incredible, fantastic player.
“We missed him a lot. We had an incredible season, winning four titles, but we missed him a lot.
“He’s a special player. I’m happy he is here.”
City swept aside the Hornets to put last week’s frustrating defeat to Norwich City behind us in emphatic fashion.
Combined with the commanding midweek performance against Shakhtar Donetsk, it’s been an impressive response from the reigning champions which spoke volumes of the character within the dressing room.
For Guardiola, however, it was to be expected and the boss acknowledged how pleased he was with his players’ reaction to last weekend’s loss.
“Football, sport, life, has bad moments,” he added. “It’s how you handle them and react to it.
“It’s easy to play at 5-0. I could have played. That’s not the point. The point is in the bad moments.
“I knew what would happen in Kharkiv and today. I didn’t want to be presumptuous, but I knew it because they’ve done it for two seasons.
“I’m close to them. I saw after Norwich how they didn’t talk too much. They were sad and I liked that.
“On the coach and the plane they didn’t talk. That’s a good sign. They suffered and that is good.”