Erling Haaland’s hat-trick inevitably stole the limelight, but Pep Guardiola highlighted Bernardo Silva’s key contribution after Manchester City scored two goals behind by beating Crystal Palace 4-2 on Saturday.
Haaland was the winner, but it was Bernardo’s deflected shot in the 53rd minute that brought City back into play after Palace’s dominance in the first half was rewarded with an own goal from John Stones and a header from Joachim Andersen .
In a week when Guardiola ruled out selling him to Barcelona or Paris St Germain, Bernardo was the best player on the pitch, once again full of racing and invention, dragging City back into the match and playing a major role in the second. of Haaland afternoon.
“I am happy that Bernardo has become a winning player,” said Guardiola. “Obviously the highlights will be Erling’s. But we cannot forget what Bernardo did, scoring the goal and scoring the right wing in the second half.
“What amazes me about Bernardo is that when the game goes wrong he takes a step forward, he loves to play in this situation. He is comfortable with it. Some players maybe take a step back and he takes a step forward. That’s why for us he is irreplaceable in many ways …
“It’s so important to us, he can play in four or five positions. And he’s not just on the pitch, he’s also off the pitch. In the locker room, I want it so badly here. “
Haaland is still finding his way into the City system, but he began his Premier League life with six goals in four games, scoring his hat-trick here within 20 minutes of the second half.
“The important thing is that he’s a lovely guy, with his feet on the ground,” said Guardiola. “We are completely in love with him. It’s not just the goals, it’s how happy he is. I see his behavior and his body language. Pay attention to the body language of the players and his is always in the right position.
“He’s always there, he encourages the players, he makes incredible efforts. You know (the possibilities are) coming. He has an incredible feeling about it. “
Haaland and City had to be patient against a Palace team that played, according to coach Patrick Vieira, a “perfect” first half: compact in defense and clinical in attack.
This was the second consecutive game and the fourth in six Premier League games, in which City fell two goals behind but avoided defeat.
The most famous of those was last season’s finale against Aston Villa, when three late goals saw City win 3-2 which sealed the title dramatically.
And even though giving away goals from opponents is a habit that City must shake up quickly, midfielder Rodri said those heroic deeds of the last day of May gave the players the conviction that they could always come back.
“We can do it,” said the Spaniard. “If it becomes a habit it is easier so we are very happy but we have to fix some things.
“We cannot allow this team to score two goals out of thin air. We must be careful. We said that last season we conceded one goal on set pieces for the whole of last season and now we have conceded two in one game. We need to improve on this.
“Sometimes it’s not about tactics, it’s about talking to the guys (in the break), being patient.
“Sometimes you want to score the second before the first. I was telling the guys that we just needed a goal to be in the game and that’s what happened. We scored a goal with Bernardo and suddenly we had 30 minutes and Erling was great.
Now he is the difference because we have a player in the box and before it was more difficult to come back like this. With Erling and Julian (Alvarez) it’s easier. “