Raheem Sterling defended Bernardo Silva after the Portugal star came under fire for a racially insensitive tweet he sent to Manchester City team-mate Benjamin Mendy.

Silva tweeted – and subsequently deleted – a picture of a young Mendy and a dated image used by Spanish confectionary brand Conguitos alongside the caption "Guess who".

The caricature has been condemned for having racist connotations, though Mendy – a close friend of Silva's – expressed amusement at the post.

Anti-discrimination group Kick It Out and others condemned the tweet, which the Football Association (FA) is investigating Silva for, but Pep Guardiola staunchly backed his player in a news conference on Friday.

Guardiola said Silva was "absolutely not guilty" and Sterling has also leapt to the midfielder's defence following Saturday's 3-1 win at Everton.

"It's a situation no one needs at this moment in time," Sterling said to Sky Sports after scoring his 100th club goal in the victory.

"It's between two friends as everyone knows. I can see exactly why some people can get touchy on it, but in that situation Bernardo made a joke to his friend.

"He's not referred to his skin colour, he's not referred to his lips. Both pictures, they've both got small heads. He didn't refer to a colour. Benjamin knows, he's proud to be black. We know he hasn't referred to his colour.

"It's sad to see Bernardo be really down about it, because he's not that way inclined. They're two really good friends. It's really sad to see.

"I can understand where the criticism has come from, but I don't feel there was any intention of trying to be racist and it's not because it's my team-mates, it's just the way I view it. I don't feel there is any racism in it, but I can see where people have come from.

"Bernardo is deeply sorry about it. He's not in the wrong, for me, but I can see where people think it's wrong. We have to be smart on social media, we understand anything you say or do can be judged and it's just a really sad situation."

Asked his view on how City have handled the issue, Sterling added: "The club, I always believed, would handle the situation right.

"The sooner the FA realise that there was no discrimination the better. At not one moment did he use a negative term about his skin colour. He tried to make a joke and it wasn't the best, but we've got to move on."

Raheem Sterling scored his 100th club goal as Manchester City won 3-1 at Everton in the Premier League on Saturday.

Having missed a great chance after being brilliantly set up by Riyad Mahrez at Goodison Park, the England forward finally found the net in the 84th minute.

Sterling grabbed the clinching goal for the defending champions, his shot crashing in off the underside of the crossbar.

Goal-line technology was required to check if the ball had crossed the line, referee Michael Oliver eventually pointing to the centre circle to confirm Stirling’s landmark strike.

Sterling has now hit 100 goals in his club career, with 23 netted for Liverpool before he joined City in 2015.

Riyad Mahrez's free-kick and Raheem Sterling's late strike earned Manchester City a hard-fought 3-1 Premier League win at Everton.

Liverpool's 1-0 victory at Sheffield United earlier in the day extended their 100 per cent start to the season and moved the Reds eight points clear of City at the top of the table.

After Dominic Calvert-Lewin's fourth goal in three matches drew Marco Silva's men level following Gabriel Jesus' opener, it looked like City would follow their last away game, a 3-2 loss at Norwich City, with another disappointing result on the road.

But Mahrez, who has scored in three consecutive City starts, beat Jordan Pickford with a low curling free-kick and Sterling added gloss to bring the champions back to five points adrift of Jurgen Klopp's leaders.

Mahrez forced a first-minute save from Pickford before a long delay as medics tended to a Theo Walcott head injury, the winger taken to hospital for a precautionary assessment after being replaced by Alex Iwobi.

Algeria star Mahrez made a lively start and Ilkay Gundogan should have converted his excellent cross, the midfielder somehow crashing his shot against the crossbar from virtually on the line.

City's dominance told in the 24th minute, De Bruyne delivering a first-time cross that was impossible to defend, with Jesus - preferred to Sergio Aguero up front - stooping to nod home.

Everton levelled within 10 minutes, Fernandinho's error contributing as Seamus Coleman chipped Ederson, with Calvert-Lewin stealing the goal on the line.

De Bruyne hit a shot into the side-netting after the restart while Ederson made a fine save to keep out Yerry Mina's downward header.

Mahrez's rich vein of form crucially continued with a set-piece that beat an unsighted Pickford, and two missed chances from Calvert-Lewin proved costly as Sterling marked his 200th City appearance by scoring off the underside of the crossbar with six minutes to go.


What does it mean? Defensive deficiencies exposed again

Everton did not cause City as many problems as Norwich two weeks ago, but the champions' defence appeared permeable once more.

Deputising for the injured Aymeric Laporte and John Stones, Fernandinho gave the ball away in the build-up to Calvert-Lewin's leveller. Luckily for the Brazil international, Mahrez's moment of magic settled the game.


De Bruyne provides another masterclass

After an unstoppable performance in last weekend's 8-0 demolition of Watford, De Bruyne was at it again. He has recorded eight assists in the league already this season and nobody has ever set up more goals at this stage of the Premier League season than the Belgium playmaker.


Sterling sitter marks rare off day

With 10 goals for club and country this season, Sterling has hit top form with Guardiola suggesting he could match the level of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the future.

But despite his late clincher this was a strangely off-key performance from the England star, who made a series of poor decisions and missed an easy chance after being superbly set up by Mahrez.


What's next?

City are at home to Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League on Tuesday before hosting Wolves five days later. Everton go to Burnley on Saturday.

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