Pep lauds ‘extraordinary’ Sterling

Pep Guardiola praised the “extraordinary” Raheem Sterling after his 11-minute hat-trick in Manchester City’s 5-1 Champions League thrashing of Atalanta.

Sterling’s performance capped a fine comeback after two Sergio Aguero goals had cancelled out Ruslan Malinovskyi’s penalty opener at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.

The 24-year-old’s treble took his tally to 16 goals in 17 games for club and country this season, with 10 assists also contributed.

“All the credit is for him,” Guardiola said. “He’s a guy whose physicality is incredible, he is so strong.

“A day after a game, he could play another game. His regeneration is incredible.

“He can play both sides, he’s fast and defensively he helps us a lot. He is an extraordinary player.”

City’s victory maintained their 100 per cent record in the competition and put them within touching distance of the last 16 as they moved five points clear at the top of Group C.

There were downsides with Rodri being forced off injured before half-time, and Phil Foden sent off late on and after being booked twice in the space of seven minutes.

“We don’t know about Rodri yet,” Guardiola said. “I think (Wednesday) we’ll know, hopefully it will be around 10 days if (his hamstring) is not broken. If it is broken, he’ll be out three weeks to a month. It looks like a hamstring injury.”

“For Phil what is important is not the red card but how he played,” Guardiola added. “He played a high level, he is an incredible player.”

City can secure their place in the knockout stages when they travel to Italy to face Atalanta next month.

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