Man City’s Guardiola says De Bruyne can raise his game further

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola described playmaker Kevin De Bruyne’s goal in its 3-1 Premier League win over Brighton & Hove Albion as a master class.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola before the match.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola before the match. | Photo Credit: Action Images via Reuters

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola described playmaker Kevin De Bruyne’s goal in its 3-1 Premier League win over Brighton & Hove Albion as a master class.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola described playmaker Kevin De Bruyne’s goal in its 3-1 Premier League win over Brighton & Hove Albion as a master class but said the Belgian international was still not playing at his highest level.

City forward Erling Haaland’s double put the second-placed side up 2-0 on Saturday but Leandro Trossard pulled one back for the visitors before De Bruyne settled the contest by curling a shot from distance high into the net.

It was De Bruyne’s second league goal of the campaign and he has provided nine assists, but Guardiola said there was more to come from the 31-year-old.

“Kevin can be better. He’s not playing at his top level, not yet. He made a fantastic goal, but he’s not playing his best,” Guardiola told reporters. “He knows. I don’t have to tell him. He’s not perfect, he knows that.”

Guardiola said De Bruyne’s strike meant that City did not have to endure a nervy finish to the game as Roberto De Zerbi’s Brighton threatened.

“The goal is outstanding,” Guardiola added. “Thanks to him we didn’t suffer in the last 15-20 minutes when the game was more open. The way Brighton play is outstanding. I’m a big admirer of De Zerbi and the way they want to play.

“The players felt... how difficult it was in the second half. The turning point in the second half was when Riyad Mahrez had a chance - and normally he doesn’t miss it - but because it’s football it happens. One minute later we concede a goal.

“In that situation the emotions are there against a difficult team. In that moment they were better, and Kevin made a master-class action so we win the game.”

Haaland’s scoring streak leaves Guardiola speechless

Guardiola has coached arguably the greatest-ever football player in Lionel Messi, so it speaks volumes when he admits he has run out of words to describe Haaland’s start to life at Manchester City.

“My English language is not big enough,” the City manager said after the Norway striker took his goal tally to 22 this season in a 3-1 win against Brighton in the Premier League on Saturday.

Haaland, who had failed to find the back of the net in last week’s 1-0 loss to Liverpool, quickly got over that mini-drought with two first-half goals as the Premier League champion moved to within a point of leader Arsenal.

With 17 goals in the league, Haaland needs just six more to equal the 23 goals that saw Mo Salah and Son Heung-min share the Golden Boot as last season’s joint leading scorers.

“Erling has the quality,” Guardiola said.

“With big space he can do it, but with small space he can do it. This is the reality, it is fantastic.” Haaland’s goals have come in just 15 appearances in all competitions. He looked set to register his fourth hat trick of the season, with both goals coming before halftime.

(with inputs from AP)

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