Wednesday 21 February 2018

Silva's sterling showing earns special Pep praise

Guardiola: “When I say I’m a lucky guy, it’s because I was with Xavi, Iniesta and now Silva. All three are outstanding players.” Photo credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire
Guardiola: “When I say I’m a lucky guy, it’s because I was with Xavi, Iniesta and now Silva. All three are outstanding players.” Photo credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

Ben Findon

Pep Guardiola praised David Silva after Manchester City's midfield magician marked his 300th appearance for the club by orchestrating a much-needed 3-1 defeat of relegation-threatened Hull.

City ended a run of four matches without a win with Silva doing what he has done on a consistently brilliant basis across seven years at the Etihad.

Wearing the captain's armband, the Spaniard once again ran the game, played a pivotal role in all three goals and, job done, left to a standing ovation 18 minutes from time.

There can be little higher praise in the Guardiola lexicon than to compare a player to those Barcelona midfield titans Andres Iniesta and Xavi but the City manager reached for those very superlatives.

"When I say I'm a lucky guy, it's because I was with Xavi, Iniesta and now Silva. All three are outstanding players," said Guardiola, who then revealed he had been urged to sign Silva, then at Valencia, for Barcelona but was put off by the asking price.

City paid Valencia £26m in June 2010 to bring Silva to the Etihad, where he promptly helped them to win the FA Cup in his first season.

The virtuoso displays have just kept on coming, with the latest enough to steady City's minimum expectations of a top-four finish in the Premier League.

He unlocked Hull with an inch-perfect, defence-splitting pass that enabled Jesus Navas to whip in a cross that the unfortunate Ahmed Elmohamady diverted into his own net for City's opener.

Silva was, naturally, also involved in City's second, a Guardiola-hallmarked 20-pass confection starting with goalkeeper Claudio Bravo and ending as Sergio Aguero claimed his 10th goal in 10 matches.

To conclude the masterclass, Silva sparked the third, manoeuvring the ball on the edge of his own penalty area to launch another rapier attack that was crowned with Fabian Delph's rasping finish.

Hull's only reply - a tame effort from Andrea Ranocchia with five minutes left - raised fresh doubts over Claudio Bravo, who should have dealt with it comfortably. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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