He takes my breath away: PEP

Kevin de Bruyne after scoring Manchester City's second goal against Tottenham. He had a hand in the third goal, as the team consolidated their lead in the standings.
Kevin de Bruyne after scoring Manchester City's second goal against Tottenham. He had a hand in the third goal, as the team consolidated their lead in the standings.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Man City boss lauds Belgian's vision and stamina as Spurs are pulverised 4-1

LONDON • Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said he had no words to describe the performance of midfielder Kevin de Bruyne after the Belgian inspired them to a 4-1 crushing of Tottenham in the Premier League on Saturday.

De Bruyne was at the heart of City's record-extending 16th straight league win, scoring their second with a blistering strike.

Beyond that, he was a constant threat to Tottenham every time he had the ball, torturing Spurs with both his sweeping passes and his direct running at their defence.

It was also the Belgian's burst forward that led to City's third goal scored by Raheem Sterling, which put the outcome beyond doubt.

"His performance today, I have no words, no words to describe what he has done with the ball," said Guardiola.

When the City manager did find a way to describe the Belgian's impact, it was to emphasise some of the midfielder's work that might not be picked up in television highlights packages.

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  • Consecutive matches Manchester City have won in their English Premier League record run.

"The fact that he is one of the most talented players and you see him, how he runs without the ball, he is a good example for the young players, for our academy.

"All the time he watches the game in his head and then without the ball, he is able to make the pressure from 40 metres (out) to the goalkeeper. When that happens, the people behind him see it and say 'if that guy runs like this, I have to run as well'."

Ilkay Gundogan put City ahead in the 14th minute, and after Spurs rallied in the second half, de Bruyne carried the game beyond them, rifling home a left-foot shot in the 70th minute and sparking the move that culminated in Leroy Sane teeing up Sterling for a tap-in.

Sterling then added another, before Christian Eriksen claimed a stoppage-time consolation for Spurs.

Amid talk of City perhaps going the whole season unbeaten, Guardiola has also matched his best winning run with Barcelona from their all-conquering 2010-11 season and stands three wins short of his own record for Europe's five major leagues, which he set at Bayern Munich in 2013-14.

"Of course I'm proud," added the Spaniard. "I don't want to be humble right now. I'm proud with my staff to achieve that with three teams, every day being there.

"All three clubs supported me, and they provide me with outstanding players. Without good players and the club supporting your ideas, it's impossible to achieve this kind of thing."

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino declared that the heavy defeat highlighted just how much Spurs need to improve if they are to challenge for the title.

"For me, we have to realise that to play for the Premier League we need to work harder than before and of course we play again today against a team that has a lot of quality," he said.

"Throughout the game they were better. We tried but in the end there is not too much to assess, not too much to say, we just have to try to lift the players and be ready to compete again next week.

"They are in a very good form and momentum. They are showing why they are the best in the Premier League."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 18, 2017, with the headline 'He takes my breath away: PEP'. Print Edition | Subscribe