John Stones will be­come 'ex­cep­tional' defender, says Pep Guardi­ola

Costa Blanca News (North Edition) - - INTERNATIONAL SPORT - By Andy Hamp­son, PA Sport, Rot­ter­dam

John Stones took cen­tre stage by scor­ing twice as Manch­ester City opened their Cham­pi­ons League cam­paign with a 4-0 thrash­ing of Feyeno­ord.

The Eng­land defender got City off to a fly­ing start with a sec­ond-minute header in Rot­ter­dam be­fore wrap­ping up an im­pres­sive win af­ter strikes from Ser­gio Aguero and Gabriel Je­sus.

It was a scin­til­lat­ing per­for­mance from City, who played a brand of at­tack­ing foot­ball that must have de­lighted man­ager Pep Guardi­ola.

The re­sult means City are al­ready look­ing strong in Group F ahead of suc­ces­sive home games against Shakhtar Donetsk and Napoli.

Asked if it was the per­fect start, Guardi­ola said: "Of course."

Guardi­ola won the Cham­pi­ons League twice in charge of Barcelona and bet­ter­ing last sea­son's last-16 exit must now be the min­i­mum aim for City.

He said: "Three points are very im­por­tant to start the group stage. Last sea­son we were not able to win one game away.

"If you want to make a step for­ward you have to do this."

The City boss went on to praise the per­for­mances of Stones and Kevin De Bruyne. Stones was solid at the back as City - who were again with­out cap­tain Vin­cent Kom­pany - as the side fol­lowed up Satur­day's 5-0 de­feat of Liver­pool with an­other clean sheet.

De Bruyne, mean­while, de­liv­ered an­other pass­ing mas­ter­class, the high­light be­ing his cross for Stones' sec­ond goal just af­ter the hour.

Guardi­ola said of Stones: "There is no doubt about his qual­ity. His two goals were so im­por­tant.

"John knows what is the gap and where he has to im­prove, de­fend­ing the du­els, but he's so young and he is able to achieve that. When he does, he will be­come an ex­cep­tional cen­tral defender."

He added: "Kevin is one of the best play­ers I've ever seen in my life in terms that he can make make ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing (hap­pen). He's a top, top qual­ity player. We are so proud and so happy he's with us."

Feyeno­ord were out­played from start to fin­ish, a harsh les­son for the Dutch cham­pi­ons on their re­turn to the elite com­pe­ti­tion af­ter a 15-year ab­sence.

Man­ager Gio­vanni van Bron­ck­horst said: "They are a very good team with a lot of qual­i­ties and speed - ev­ery­thing to be a top team.

"We weren't ready for them. You could see the dif­fer­ence and the dif­fer­ence was too big."

Photo: PA

John Stones

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