Pep Guardiola hailed Kevin De Bruyne as a “legend” after the midfielder registered a goal and an assist on his Premier League return to help Manchester City to a dramatic 3-2 win over Newcastle United.
De Bruyne came on as a 69th-minute substitute with City 2-1 down at St James’ Park before scoring to make it 2-2 and then setting up 20-year-old Oscar Bobb for a 91st-minute winner.
It was the Belgian’s first league appearance since August after spending five months on the sidelines because of a hamstring injury that required surgery to correct.
“He is a legend,” said Guardiola. “I had the feeling he is not ready for 90 minutes after five months so we have that situation, impact in the last minutes.
“The goal and the assist, he is loved by our people and hopefully in the last months he can help us be there to the end.”
The result, which looked unlikely when Alexander Isak and Anthony Gordon scored in the space of two first-half minutes to put Newcastle 2-1 up after Bernardo Silva‘s opener, moves City up to second in the table, two points behind leaders Liverpool.
And after an exhilarating evening, Guardiola felt emboldened to talk up his team’s chances of winning a record fourth Premier League title in a row.
“The team is alive,” he said.
“Why should we not try it again? We won three [titles] in a row, five in the last six, so why not? It’s really important because Liverpool are flying over the last month and we have to go to Anfield so it’s better to be close to them.”
The one downside for City was an injury to Ederson that forced the Brazilian goalkeeper off the field inside five minutes.
Guardiola’s team don’t play again until their FA Cup fourth-round tie against Tottenham on Jan. 26, and Guardiola is hopeful the problem isn’t serious.
“He has a big knock,” said the City manager.
“I didn’t speak to the doctor. But just a knock, he will be fine as he doesn’t play for 10 days.”