Monday 24 July 2017

Guardiola expresses faith in recalled Bravo despite fresh blunder

Manchester City 3 Hull City 1

Fabian Delph celebrates scoring City’s third goal. Photo: Reuters
Fabian Delph celebrates scoring City’s third goal. Photo: Reuters

Jamie Holt

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola reiterated his belief that Claudio Bravo is among the best goalkeepers in the world, despite another mistake yesterday. Bravo was surprisingly restored to City's starting line-up for the victory over Hull after sitting out the last eight Premier League games.

The 33-year-old impressed with the ball at his feet but was guilty of a late error, allowing a weak Andrea Ranocchia effort through his grasp.

Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo made yet another error during his performance. The keeper has been heavily criticised since replacing Joe Hart. Photo: PA
Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo made yet another error during his performance. The keeper has been heavily criticised since replacing Joe Hart. Photo: PA

By that point City were cruising to their first win in five top-flight games courtesy of an own goal from Ahmed Elmohamady and second-half strikes from Sergio Aguero and Fabian Delph.

Bravo has now conceded seven goals from the last seven shots he has faced on target in the Premier League following his previous two appearances against Everton and Tottenham in January.

But Guardiola backed his decision to restore the former Barcelona keeper, who played a key part in the build-up to City's second goal.

"I decide that so simple, I had no reason, [he was] training good like Willy [Caballero]," said Guardiola. "I will decide game by game and today I decide that, with our build-up, Claudio is the best goalkeeper in the world with [Marc-Andre] Ter Stegen and Manuel Neuer, with the feet and he helped us a lot to create good build-up.

Man City boss Pep Guardiola has defended Claudio Bravo and still believes he is a world-class goalkeeper. Photo: PA
Man City boss Pep Guardiola has defended Claudio Bravo and still believes he is a world-class goalkeeper. Photo: PA

"We had two or three chances through Claudio and the build-up. Today we won the game, after four games without winning it was so important."

The win moved fourth-placed City seven points above Arsenal and Manchester United, who both have two games in hand.

City have dropped points against top-four rivals Arsenal and Liverpool in recent weeks and Guardiola is expecting the battle for Champions League spots to go down to the wire.

"It's not a big gap," added the Catalan. "Arsenal have two less games and I am pretty sure it is going to happen until the end. "We are going to fight against Arsenal and United and Liverpool to qualify. You have to know that.

"Before the game against Liverpool, after our defeat in Monaco, we spoke about that. It would be a success to qualify for the Champions League."

Aguero's goal made it 10 in his last 10 games in all competitions and, despite a lack of celebration from the Argentina striker, Guardiola was still pleased.

Guardiola said: "I promise you he was so happy. Sergio [has made] an amazing step forward in the last two months. He is playing unbelievable, scoring one goal a game."

Hull are now two points above the relegation zone as their two-game winning run came to a halt. Marco Silva's side face Stoke, Watford and Southampton in their next three games but the Portuguese manager had few complaints about the latest result.

Silva said: "Manchester City deserved to win. We didn't have a good performance. We conceded a really unlucky own goal, and made our opponent more comfortable in the match.

"We tried to change some things at half-time to prepare our team to press a little bit more, but they scored in the first minutes of the second half.

"Manchester City controlled the rest of the game. I felt in some moments our team was a bit tired after the last two games at home, but it's clear to me Manchester City deserved to win."

Hull are unbeaten at home in the league since December but they have lost their last four on the road.

Silva added: "Our home form has been amazing but we need to change something away. Now comes good games to change the situation away as well."

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