Pep Guardiola: Manchester City's first-half performance in Swansea win what I want to see

Pep Guardiola: Manchester City's first-half performance in Swansea win what I want to see

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola hailed his side's performance in their last-gasp 2-1 win over Swansea City on Sunday as the perfect example of how he wants to see his side play as he praised match-winner Gabriel Jesus, who scored a brace.

charlie-malam
Charlie Malam

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola felt his side were "brilliant" and hailed their first-half performance as the perfect example of what he wants to see from his team after Sunday's late 2-1 league win over Swansea City

The Sky Blues dominated the first 45 minutes but only had Gabriel Jesus' 11th-minute finish, his second goal in as many games for City, to show for it at half-time.

And they became ponderous and complacent in the second-half, allowing Gylfi Sigurdsson to drill Swansea's equaliser in the 81st minute as the visitors threatened to steal a point.

But Jesus, who has hit the ground running at the Etihad Stadium since joining from Palmeiras in a £27 million deal, popped up in the second minute of stoppage-time to hand City a much-needed three points to send them back into third in the Premier League

Guardiola was delighted by match-winner Jesus' display but acknowledged the drop-off in his City's side performance after the break as disappointing.

Guardiola pleased by 'brilliant' performance despite below-par second-half

"We were close. We were close to not winning the game at the end, yes," he admitted in his post-match media conference. "I think in 90 minutes we deserved to win. What we had done in terms of chances, and conceding few, and the way we played.

"The gap between first-half and second-half is too big. I remember we played against Middlesbrough and it was quite similar but today we were lucky to score a goal in the last minute. In general, the performance was brilliant.

"The second-half, Swansea, I want to give them real credit. What they did in the second-half, not allowing us to press. We used too much the counter-actions when usually in the second-half, we control [the game] more. 

"Always it is difficult at 1-0 down. At just 1-0, anything can happen. But I'm happy with the performance in general, the players and the three points."

Jesus rewarded Guardiola's decision to pick him over Sergio Aguero for the second successive game, the 19-year-old taking his tally to three goals in his last two league games.

City boss Guardiola said afterwards: "He made again a lot of things in terms of without the ball and with the ball. He's a guy, in the box, who has got an instinct to score goals.

"When he played with Sergio they played both really, really well. He's a guy who will run for 90 minutes. In the long balls he's a fighter, he's able to win [the ball] against taller, taller defenders.

"He's 19 years old and that's why we, Manchester City, are delighted about what he has done until now.

And on Aguero, he admitted: "It must not be easy [for him not to play], I understand that, but there are five guys in this position. Sergio remains one of the most important players for our squad and for what we have to do in the next period.

"He will be so, so important. He's going to play a lot of games. He's going to play with Gabriel, without Gabriel. He's going to play.

"Today I decided to keep going with the three guys [Jesus, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling] because they played so good in the last three games, especially Crystal Palace and West Ham.

"Sergio's reaction was perfect. Of course he wants to play."

Everyone is a little surprised at Jesus' level, admits Spaniard

Guardiola even admitted that he and his management staff have even been taken aback by the nature of Jesus' immediate impact at City.

He continued: "We expected the best because he's a striker for the national team in Brazil. In the Brazil national team, it isn't easy to play. But of course when you arrive in pre-season you have time to know him [the player] and time for him to train and play with his teammates.

"To suddenly arrive and to play immediately, and of course it was just eight minutes [on his debut] against Tottenham Hotspur and we said 'wow, that guy can create for himself.' 

"I think he's angry, he has desire and he has showed until now many, many good things. We're so happy for that because of course we need him.

"He came after finishing the season as champions with Palmeiras. We spoke about that. The last two or three years he hasn't had a break because in Brazil he played a lot of games.

"I said to him, 'Take your time, come back here when you feel ready.' But he's 19 years old, Brazilian, physical, strong. He needs few training sessions to be ready.

"This is a guy who told me 'I'm never tired' and he's always healthy. He recovers quick because of his physical condition, he's 19, his father and mother gave him this talent.

"Now, we just have to protect him. But everybody is a little surprised at his level."

Guardiola added: "Every player has his skills and Jesus in the box, has something special. With the ball, it's clear with the first touch. With the second and third touch he has to improve.

"Without the ball he's involved. He's so intelligent with when and how he has to put pressure on the central defenders. He's 19 years old, that's why we're surprised.

"Sometimes a guy needs a lot of time to settle, to know the league and to know his teammates. Another ones, it's immediately. That guy arrived like this."

City boss 'really impressed' by well-drilled Swans

Guardiola also waxed lyrical about the early impact of former Bayern Munich assistant manager Paul Clement at Swansea, singling out his side's defensive organisation for praise.

He explained: "Swansea had won three of their last four games. Paul Clement, until now, has done an outstanding job. We spoke with the players how difficult it would be to attack 10 players.

"We told them to be patient and unfortunately with the way we played in the first-half, we deserved to go in two or three goals [up]. But what happened, 1-0 is never over. 

"They [the Swansea players] know exactly what they have to do. Against Arsenal, they played 4-4-2 and lost 4-0 and after maybe thought about 4-1-4-1 with Sigurdsson and the other wingers always narrow, no space between the lines.

"[Leroy] Fer and [Tom] Carroll are always there, they provoke [the opponent] to go wide then they go there with four players to close. They are strong in the box. So what they do, in terms of defending to be compact, I'm really impressed.

"I saw the game against Liverpool, we were waiting for our game [against Spurs] and for 10 minutes, 15 minutes, we said 'wow, to attack that team will be tough.'

"Over the last few days I watched many games and I saw it would be difficult, but I think that my team were really well prepared. What I saw in the first-half, they were excellent and ready.

"The way we played in the first-half is what I want from my team. Being there, they [Swansea] had no option to create, right, left, between the lines.

"But the second-half was a little bit different and we have to improve on that for the future."

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