Pep Guardiola rejects accusations of goading Liverpool players with goal celebrations

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Pep Guardiola declared Manchester City were almost perfect as they came from behind to beat Liverpool 4-1 and record a seventh straight win.

Julian Alvarez, Kevin de Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan and Jack Grealish scored as City ensured they did not miss the injured Erling Haaland.

And Guardiola, who downplayed his own seemingly provocative celebrations to Alvarez’s equaliser, was delighted with his players.

“From the first minute until the 93rd minute, it was almost the perfect performance,” he said. “The way we played, the way we found our spaces for how they defend. Our intensity, high pressing. We were so stable and stuck to the plan. All the players were magnificent.

“Always we have fought against Liverpool, the way they defend, the way they play is so difficult for us. But today the players were magnificent. We played really well in all departments so hats off to our players. Tell me one player who didn’t play well? There was no one who was not playing well.”

Guardiola denied he goaded Liverpool substitute Kostas Tsimikas after Alvarez equalised. Cameras showed him approaching the defender, along with Reds midfielder Arthur, but Guardiola claimed: “I was happy and said how nice our goal was.”

Pressed on it, he added: “Come on. I’m so sorry. Ask him if I lack respect, I celebrate the goal with my son [in the stands]. I’m so sorry.”

BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand said of the incident, “I don’t know how Tsimikas hasn’t pushed the opposing manager Pep Guardiola out of the way.”

The manager also went on to single out Alvarez for praise, adding: “With Erling you have something special and Julian is something special as well. He was important for the first three goals. With the ball he was so clever and so intelligent, he played with national team, world champions, if you aren’t good you cannot play in a world champion team. He’s so humble. He made a really good game.”