Guardi­ola pins cup hopes on La­porte

The Citizen (KZN) - - Sport -

– Pep Guardi­ola ad­mit­ted Aymeric La­porte’s re­turn from in­jury will be key to Manch­ester City’s hopes of a suc­cess­ful end to the sea­son af­ter Ser­gio Aguero sealed a 1-0 win against Sh­effield United on Tues­day.

Guardi­ola’s side were labour­ing to break down their ri­vals un­til Aguero came off the bench to end their stub­born re­sis­tance at Bra­mall Lane.

City striker Gabriel Je­sus had a penalty saved by Dean Hen­der­son in the first half but with 17 min left, Aguero bagged his seventh goal in four ap­pear­ances in 2020.

His 21st goal of the sea­son in all com­pe­ti­tions moved sec­ond-placed City to within 13 points of run­away Premier League lead­ers Liver­pool, who have two games in hand.

Guardi­ola har­bours dreams of lead­ing City to their first Cham­pi­ons League crown and they also face an FA Cup date with Ful­ham this week­end, fol­lowed by the League Cup semi­fi­nal sec­ond leg against Manch­ester United.

With those am­bi­tions in mind, Guardi­ola will have been en­cour­aged by the way City coped with the Blades’ ag­gres­sive game plan.

“Ser­gio is on fire right now. Strik­ers need mo­men­tum. It’s good for us to have strik­ers in this form,” he said. “I’m so happy with the team. I know what it’s like to play here, it is a tough place. We con­trolled it well and cre­ated chances to win.”

Keep­ing their third clean sheet in 14 league games was an­other boost for Guardi­ola, who gave French de­fender La­porte his first ap­pear­ance since Au­gust.

La­porte had been back in train­ing for over a week, but his pres­ence was a sur­prise as Guardi­ola had hinted he was not ready.

“We knew Aymeric couldn’t play for 90 min, that’s why we played five at the back, to pro­tect him a lit­tle bit. He’s a cru­cial player for us, we’ve missed him,” Guardi­ola said. – AFP

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