Kevin De Bruyne showed he is “unstoppable” when playing with “this fire inside” in Manchester City’s 3-2 EFL Cup win over Liverpool, Pep Guardiola said.
De Bruyne was well below his brilliant best as Belgium were eliminated from the World Cup in the group stage earlier this month.
But his first match back in City colours on Thursday provided a reminder of the midfielder’s remarkable talents.
De Bruyne supplied assists for Erling Haaland and Nathan Ake in a gripping cup tie, creating a game-high five chances in all as he ran the show at the Etihad Stadium.
As well as excelling with the ball, De Bruyne led the City press out of possession, winning four turnovers in the final third. Rico Lewis (two) was the only other player on the pitch to manage more than one.
“Kevin, when he plays with this fire inside of him, he finds himself this fire… what a player,” manager Guardiola told Sky Sports.
“How many years is Kevin here? Seven, eight years? I think so. There’s so many things. He’s an absolute legend.
“Always I push him to find this fire. In important games, when he has this, he’s unstoppable.”
Superb performance from @KevinDeBruyne tonight! #ManCity | @EASPORTSFIFA pic.twitter.com/UPb3g5oDep
— Manchester City (@ManCity) December 22, 2022
Guardiola reserved additional praise for Lewis, the 18-year-old right-back who took 89 touches and won five duels against the Reds – trailing only Rodri among City players in both metrics.
“In a long, long time, I didn’t see a performance like Rico Lewis,” Guardiola said of a teenager who debuted in August.
“He’s 18 years old, playing against Liverpool with big stars up front, and the way he played with the ball and without the ball…
“We are lucky, incredibly lucky to have this player for the next decade. Hopefully the club can keep him, because he was exceptional. The game he played was exceptional.”
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