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Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says that he never doubted following the Brazilian’s strong screen in the 3-0 win in Shakhtar Donetsk that Fernandinho would be comfortable playing in a four.
Injuries to John Stones and Aymeric Laporte have left City with just one fit centre-back at Nicolas Otamendi.
However, midfielder Fernandinho appeared natural there in Ukraine and has been coaching this year.
“That is why he is so important for us,” explained Guardiola.
“We don’t have many options. I think he is the only one I’ve [at ]. Players can perform in that place but Fernandinho is so smart a clever player – an extraordinary guy.
“He did well the first match he played [this season]. Obviously he has a lot of expertise and character, and what he says that the folks today follow him in the locker room so it’s essential.”
“I didn’t have doubts that he could [look so comfy in the rear four].”
It was a night for City’s defence as part of a screen from the Champions League Group C opener.
City scored twice in the first half with Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan both on goal – before Gabriel Jesus secured the win following the breakup with his strike that was fourth in two games against Shakhtar.
Having played with Shakhtar at the group phase of each of the previous three Champions League contests, City now have a list of four wins and a defeat.
2 interceptions, a passing precision of 90% left for a quietly effective night for Fernandinho and two strong headers won.
“Pep knows about our team and staff and when he desires [us], each player should be ready,” he told BT Sport. “Now was my time and opportunity and I hope I will get better and enhance a tiny bit more.”
“It was a quiet night [for the defence]. I believe a very good game was made by that the team beginning with the guys.
“In the rear it was a bit simpler for us. But for sure we performed today as a team and we deserved the result – we were much better and we created lots of chances and surrendered few opportunities to them.”
Guardiola was pleased with the display and a result that was the best riposte to their shock 3-2 Premier League reduction at Norwich and puts them up to push for eligibility to the previous 16.
“We saw that the results yesterday and now we understand how hard the Champions League is. We defended very well and we made opportunities,” said the Spaniard.
“To start with three things away is indeed important, it is in our hands to reach the last 16.
“When you win the manager makes the ideal choices, when you lose the wrong decisions. We dropped one game in eight weeks and we’re not going to doubt that these players are. It is a joy to be their manager.”
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