Guardiola hails penalty king Mahrez as Man City swat away Fulham FA Cup threat

By Sports Desk February 05, 2022

Riyad Mahrez must have had mixed feelings about his starring role for Manchester City against Fulham in the FA Cup, but Pep Guardiola was eager to shower him with praise.

On Sunday, the Africa Cup of Nations final sees Egypt and Senegal go head to head, vying to succeed Algeria as champions.

This time around, Algeria put up a dismal defence of their title, with captain Mahrez unable to prevent them tumbling out after the group stage with just one point from three games.

It has meant he has been available to City perhaps sooner than anticipated, and his two goals in the 4-1 win over Fulham on Saturday showed what he brings to Guardiola's team.

Mahrez fired in a second-half penalty to move City 3-1 in front, before adding the security of the hosts' fourth goal, a shot with his weaker right foot trickling in via a touch off Fulham defender Tim Ream.

Mahrez called it a "great performance", and he has now scored in his last six appearances across all competitions for City, taking his tally for the team to 15 goals this season, his best tally for the club in a single campaign.

Guardiola was particularly pleased to see Mahrez tuck away another spot-kick, convinced now he has a player who is deadly from 12 yards.

Mahrez has converted his last seven penalties for City, and that means he is the first-choice taker, ahead of Kevin De Bruyne.

"Of course, he is a guy with a mentality to score a goal," Guardiola said in his post-match news conference.

"As a player, he has a special quality. He understands how he attracts opponents to make one against two, or one against three, and afterwards pass the ball for the free men.

"Close to the box, always you have a feeling that he has to score a goal. We have struggled a lot in the last year to take and score penalties, and now he is a guarantee.

"He is scoring every penalty he is going to take and that is important for us as well, and especially under pressure.

"You take a penalty at 4-0, and it is easy, but last season in Dortmund we were 1-0 down and he scored a penalty, and this season 1-0 [behind] against Arsenal he scored - he had the personality to say, 'Give me the ball, I'm going to score', and he did it."

 

Guardiola insisted he had been impressed by Championship leaders Fulham, who took a surprise early lead through Fabio Carvalho but were soon themselves trailing, as City hit the front in the 13th minute after goals from Ilkay Gundogan, who was teed up by Mahrez, and John Stones.

"Very pleased to be in the next round," said Guardiola. "This round showed us there can be many surprises, and we won against a very top team."

Manchester United lost on penalties to Middlesbrough on Friday, but City were far more clinical against second-tier opposition than their Mancunian rivals.

Since Guardiola took charge in 2016, City have won 42 domestic cup matches across the EFL Cup (20) and FA Cup (22), which is four more than the next side – Chelsea (38).

They are now on a 12-match winning run against Fulham, so as much as Guardiola made a point of saying he rated the "positional game" of Marco Silva's team, backing them for promotion, these teams remain poles apart in terms of quality.

Related items

  • Barcelona sign Christensen on free transfer after leaving Chelsea Barcelona sign Christensen on free transfer after leaving Chelsea

    Barcelona have announced the signing of Andreas Christensen on a free transfer from Chelsea.

    The centre-back has moved to Camp Nou after his contract with Chelsea expired at the end of June.

    Denmark international Christensen has agreed a four-year deal that includes a €500millon buy-out clause. 

    Christensen had been linked with Barca for some time after it began to look likely he would not extend his stay in west London.

    Barca president Joan Laporta confirmed on Saturday that Christensen's deal would be officially completed and announced this week.

    He becomes Barca's second signing of the transfer window, with Franck Kessie's move from Serie A champions Milan – also on a free transfer – having been confirmed earlier on Monday.

    Christensen joined Chelsea from Brondby back in 2012 and made his professional debut two years later, but it was only after a two-year loan spell with Borussia Monchengladbach that his Blues career began to take off.

    He has made 167 appearances for the club in all competitions, including 26 last season, scoring four goals in total.

    A Champions League, Europa League, Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup winner in his Stamford Bridge career, Chelsea won 92 of the matches in which Christensen featured.

    With Christensen and Kessie on board, Barca's focus seems to be on completing a move for Leeds United winger Raphinha.

    Chelsea have reportedly agreed a fee with Leeds for the Brazil international, but Laporta insisted Raphinha has indicated he instead wishes to join Barca, who are hopeful of striking a deal despite their financial issues.

    Barca are also in talks with Ousmane Dembele over a new deal, with the France winger now a free agent, while Manchester United have an interest in Blaugrana midfielder Frenkie de Jong.

  • Barcelona complete signing of Kessie following Milan departure Barcelona complete signing of Kessie following Milan departure

    Barcelona have confirmed the signing of Franck Kessie on a free transfer following the end of his spell with Milan.

    The midfielder has agreed a four-year deal with the Blaugrana, which was made official on Monday following months of speculation.

    Kessie spent five seasons at San Siro, the first two of those on loan, and helped Milan to their first Scudetto triumph in 11 years in his final campaign with the club.

    He played in 31 of Milan's 38 Serie A matches and scored six goals from midfield, a tally only bettered by Zlatan Ibrahimovic (eight), Rafael Leao and Olivier Giroud (both 11).

    However, fresh terms could not be agreed between the Rossoneri and Kessie, meaning the Ivory Coast international became a free agent on July 1.

    Barca were always considered the strong favourites to land the 25-year-old, whose Camp Nou contract contains a €500million release clause.

     

    Kessie will compete with the likes of Sergio Busquets, Pedri, Gavi and Frenkie de Jong for a midfield spot, though the latter is expected to join Manchester United.

    In all, Kessie played 174 Serie A games for Milan since initially joining from Atalanta in June 2017, with Napoli's Piotr Zielinski (179) the only midfielder to feature more times.

  • BREAKING NEWS: Barcelona complete signing of Kessie following Milan departure BREAKING NEWS: Barcelona complete signing of Kessie following Milan departure

    Barcelona have confirmed the signing of Franck Kessie on a free transfer following the end of his spell with Milan.

    The midfielder has agreed a four-year deal with the Blaugrana, which was made official on Monday following months of speculation.

    Kessie spent five seasons at San Siro, the first two of those on loan, and helped Milan to their first Scudetto triumph in 11 years in his final campaign with the club.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.