Pep Guardiola has lauded the performance of Bernardo Silva after Manchester City thrashed Sporting Lisbon 5-0 to all but assure their place in the Champions League quarter-finals.
City produced a fine performance to secure an emphatic first leg win in the Portuguese capital, with Bernardo scoring twice – including a stunning strike on the half-volley – in a result which emphasised the status of Pep Guardiola’s side as tournament favourites.
Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling were also on target for the Premier League champions, but it was the sublime performance of Bernardo on his return to Portugal that had Guardiola full of praise, the Catalan praising the midfielder’s ‘understanding’ of the game, as well as his ability to perform.
“Always, I tell him, ‘Bernardo you are a perfect player’… (But) I say ‘you have to score goals to win games, you have to do it’,” said the City boss.
“Today he scored one of the best goals I have ever seen, for the technique, for everything.
“Hopefully he can get confidence. For him it’s special, I always speak a lot with him about what Lisbon means to him.
“Lisbon is his hometown. He left years ago for Monaco, Monte Carlo after here and always loves the opportunity to come here to his hometown.
“Of course, he is a former Benfica player and supporter. He loves Benfica and to beat a rival in that way is special for him.
“He is unique. Many things are unique. First as a person. His mum and dad have to be so proud. He is a lovely person. He is so generous.
“When he plays he doesn’t complain. He can play in six roles easily. He doesn’t just play football, he understands the game.
“There are players who just play good with the ball but he understands every action and there are few in the world (who do that).”