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Sterling defies convention and delights Guardiola

Raheem Sterling followed up his midweek hat-trick with a goal against Aston Villa, much to Pep Guardiola's delight.

Sterling defies convention and delights Guardiola
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Pep Guardiola hailed Raheem Sterling's ability to cope with high expectations after the winger scored in the Premier League four days after hitting a Champions League hat-trick.

Sterling's treble in a 5-1 victory over Atalanta added weight to his billing as the top flight's most in-form forward and he lived up to the hype in a 3-0 win over Aston Villa.

After a goalless first half in which City survived a number of scares at the back, Sterling broke the deadlock early in the second half to settle the champions' nerves.

Sterling's strike paved the way for David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan to increase City's lead, and Guardiola was quick to point out the difficulty many players have in delivering when under pressure in the manner that Sterling did.

Guardiola: City need to be aggressive

"We played good for 45 minutes, but not the other one," Guardiola told reporters. "Respect and credit to Aston Villa.

"We have to be aggressive with the ball. The only person in the first half who was aggressive was Sterling. In the second half it happened.

"When everybody talks in the media how good you are, usually the next game you play like 'how good am I?'. Sterling was the complete opposite.

"That is our strength as a team in the last years together. Every game, every three days, we go together."

Guardiola praises Grealish's loyalty

Guardiola also reserved words of praise for Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish, whose dynamic performance caused City's defence problems in the first half at Etihad Stadium.

Grealish was expected to join Tottenham after Villa missed out on promotion to the Premier League in the 2017-18 Championship play-offs, but he stayed at the club and helped them reach the top flight a year later.

Guardiola expressed his admiration for Grealish's commitment, saying: "Grealish is an incredible player. He's a top player.

"I'm happy he's an Aston Villa player. I like that he stayed and defended his club (in the Championship).

"He's fast in the final [third] and always creates something."


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