December 17, 2017 / 4:14 AM / 6 months ago

Soccer: De Bruyne performance leaves Guardiola speechless

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - 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 Hotspur on Saturday.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester City vs Tottenham Hotspur - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - December 16, 2017 Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne celebrates scoring their second goal REUTERS/Phil Noble

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.

He was brought down for the second-half penalty that was struck against the post by Gabriel Jesus and it was the Belgian’s burst forward that led to City’s third goal, which put the outcome beyond doubt.

“His performance today, I have no words, no words to describe what he has done with the ball, how many assists, his (ability to) switch play,” said the Spanish manager.

When Guardiola 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.

“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...

“They know how good Kevin De Bruyne is and they can see how he runs and fights without the ball and that is the best example. He helps us to be a better club, a better institution for the future, that is what we want to do,” said Guardiola.

“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’.”

Amid talk of City perhaps going the whole season unbeaten, De Bruyne said they were focused purely on their main goal of winning the title.

“No, absolutely not. We are here to win titles, we had a great start, it’s still more than half (of the season remaining) so it’s very difficult, very hard. We want to win each game, we’re doing a good job,” he said.

“We know the quality of the team is high, we know this mentally, we want to win every game, we’re very busy and mentally we want to keep going. It was a great performance.”

Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Toby Davis

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