Guardiola lauds 'exceptional' City display in win over Brighton

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Pep Guardiola felt Manchester City were "exceptional" as they beat Brighton and Hove Albion 3-0 to return to the top of the Premier League.

Second-half goals from Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday moved City a point clear of Liverpool with six games to play.

Mahrez and Foden found the back of the net with the help of deflections before Silva put the icing on the cake with a clinical left-foot finish late on.

Liverpool had made a statement by thrashing Manchester United 4-0 on Tuesday, but City responded with a comfortable win of their own 24 hours later.

It was a 250th victory of his City tenure for Guardiola and the Spaniard was full of a praise for his side, knowing they can ill afford any slip-ups in the title race.

He told Match of the Day: "It was a good test and we behaved exceptional. That is why we won the game.

"We didn't let them play. Brighton have this quality. In the second half we found the goals that we could not find in the first half."

He added: "The feeling today is that we are now mathematically going to play in the Champions League. People can say it is normal, but it is not. You only have to look at the incredible teams fighting to get into the Champions League.

"Now for the Premier League, we are not stupid. If we drop just two points, Liverpool will be champions. If we win all games we will be champions. The players know it.

"We know the tough games we have and we must try to perform like today and win all the games. If we do that we will celebrate, if not we will congratulate Liverpool."

Kevin De Bruyne was outstanding on his return to the starting line-up and Guardiola says the midfielder is stepping up when City really need him.

He said: "What a signing. The club sign him before I come here so a big congratulations to the club. A special player and human being.

"When fit and happy mentally like all of us and is fit to show his potential he is unstoppable in that position, in transition especially. He is playing the last part of this season amazingly."

Ruben Diaz made his return from a hamstring injury as a half-time substitute after Nathan Ake sustained a twisted ankle, while John Stones was withdrawn late on.

Guardiola said: "Nathan Ake has a twisted ankle. It is not perfect but it was good to give minutes to Ruben. John was a little bit tight.

"Hopefully [it is] nothing too bad but we will see tomorrow. Ruben is important. It is difficult seven weeks out to come back and pick up the rhythm. He is mentally so strong and that is why he show so many good things."

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