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Pep Guardiola hails Manchester City’s ‘best performance of the season’

Manchester City v Newcastle United – Premier League – Etihad Stadium
(Image credit: Clive Brunskill)

Pep Guardiola hailed Manchester City’s best performance of the season as they eased to a 2-0 victory over Newcastle on a wet and windy Boxing Day night.

Ilkay Gundogan and Ferran Torres struck in each half at the Etihad Stadium as City climbed up to fifth in the Premier League with a convincing display.

“It was the best performance of the season,” City manager Guardiola said. “That is the tempo we need to play. Everybody needs to do their jobs and this was a good example. Our positional game was perfect.

“I’m so glad how we played. We had a victory, we climbed some positions. Unfortunately we could not score more goals but it is a good result and three more points.”

City face a quick turnaround as they travel to Everton on Monday evening.

Guardiola said: “We cannot think much, we can’t stop. We have to build from here. In 45 hours we have another game at Goodison Park.

“(On Sunday) the players have to regenerate and prepare in one day, but that’s how England likes it so we accept it. After that we have six games before the next one.”

Ilkay Gundogan (no.8) set Manchester City on the way to victory

Ilkay Gundogan (no.8) set Manchester City on the way to victory (Jason Cairnduff/PA)

City were without Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker after both players tested positive for Covid-19 earlier in the week.

Guardiola said: “The last thing I think right now is being without Kyle and Gabriel is a problem for the team. What we want for them is that it is not getting worse and they are asymptomatic.

“Covid is here. It is not just in Manchester, it is all around the world. What we want is they recover. We will look forward to seeing them again.”

Manchester City v Newcastle United – Premier League – Etihad Stadium

Steve Bruce was happy with his side’s spirit (Peter Powell/PA)

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce was pleased with the spirit shown by his side in response to the criticism they received following their loss to Championship side Brentford in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals.

Bruce said: “We had a bad week and some of the mass hysteria was unfair.

“The week has gone but we all had to respond to the criticism. They have done that as much as they possibly could in the circumstances.

“We knew we were facing a world-class team and the best side won but it was a decent performance and that was good news.

“We have had a difficult time with Covid and people struggling with illness.

“We wanted them to recover, roll their sleeves up and have a go at Manchester City. That is difficult against them but their attitude was excellent.”

City dominated the game but Newcastle were still in contention until Torres struck City’s second after a mistake by Miguel Almiron.

“We gave the ball away in a poor area and if you do that against a top team you get punished,” said Bruce.

“But I wanted us to respond from a poor showing and I am pleased they did that.”

Newcastle, who were without Allan Saint-Maximin and Jamaal Lascelles due to Covid-19, saw Joelinton leave the game early with a hip injury. Bruce also confirmed Jonjo Shelvey and Ryan Fraser missed the game with injuries.