Kevin De Bruyne is "right up there" among the Premier League greats such as Steven Gerrard, Yaya Toure and Paul Scholes.

That was the message to Stats Perform from Kolo Toure, who also likened the De Bruyne and Erling Haaland pairing at Manchester City to former Arsenal combination Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp.

The Belgium midfielder has been central to City's push for a third straight top-flight title this term, assisting 16 times and scoring seven of his own in the league.

Toure believes not many compare to De Bruyne as City remain competing for the treble, with an FA Cup final against Manchester United and a Champions League last-four meeting with Real Madrid also to come.

He said: "[Kevin De Bruyne] is right up there with those top, legendary players. Steven Gerrard, Yaya Toure, all those players, Paul Scholes.

"I rate him really, really high, because this guy technically, tactically is unbelievable. His range of passes is fantastic, his vision is incredibly great and he is, for me, the best midfielder in the world right now.

"One of them definitely. Maybe the best one, because what he has shown game after game is great."

De Bruyne put City in control of the title race with his double against Arsenal in Wednesday's 4-1 win at the Etihad Stadium.

Haaland followed that up with the final goal against the Gunners before netting his 50th strike of the season across all competitions in Sunday's narrow 2-1 win over Fulham.

That half-century tally of goals is 21 more than any other Premier League player this term and more strikes than seven English top-flight clubs in all competitions this campaign.

Toure says the combination between Haaland and chief creator De Bruyne reminds him of Arsenal legends Henry and Bergkamp, who played an integral role in the Gunners' last title-winning campaign back in 2003-04.

"He shows all his quality technically, tactically with his passes and having Haaland with him has made his game even better, because he has a player he can pass the ball to, as soon as he lifts his head Haaland is on his way and he can pass him the ball at the right time," Toure added.

"Sometimes in teams when you create those relationships – in our time you would say Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry, and Thierry Henry as Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne as Dennis Bergkamp really.

"They have this connection together and you can feel that they both know each other, they look for each other. When one provides the ball and the other one scores, the other one runs at him and praises him.

"But, De Bruyne at the moment, for me, is top, top, top. Right up there with all the top midfielders we have had in the Premier League, definitely."

Pep Guardiola was adamant that the next three games will dictate the title race after Manchester City's commanding 4-1 home victory against Arsenal saw them take charge of the Premier League. 

City remain in second place and two points behind Arsenal but, with two games in hand over their London rivals, have wrestled the momentum into their own hands with just seven games to go.

A brace from Kevin De Bruyne alongside goals from John Stones and Erling Haaland cemented a dominant home display from Guardiola's side, but the City manager was quick to turn the attention to the crucial fixtures ahead as City look to take advantage of their games in hand over their London rivals.

"I know the next three games are really important," he said speaking to BT Sport.

"Fulham on Sunday, what Marco Silva has done this season is incredible, and then after the two games at home against West Ham and Leeds, these games will dictate the season.

"The reality today is we are behind Arsenal, they are two points in front of us."

Guardiola went on to laud the dominant manner of his side's victory who have now won 12 consecutive league games against Arsenal. 

"From the first minute we were incredibly focused," Guardiola said. 

"The guys responded unbelievably in an important game – not decisive, but really important.

 

"We are back-to-back Premier League winners so in September, October, when you lose a game you say you have time, but Arsenal were not like that. When we arrive in the last two months, the players know it’s close and if we lose, we have no chance.

"As a player, playing with that mentality that there is no other option but to win, that is the best way to approach the games. In the last two months, the players showed that every game we try to win and move forward."

Stones', whose header provided City's crucial second goal on the stroke of half-time, suggested that the experience of City's squad was a key factor in the crucial victory.

He said: "We've been through tough moments and situations at this stage of the season in the past, and it's done us so well - we know how to cope and what to do in different scenarios.

"Everyone's been there and everyone has that hunger. Day's like today there is a lot of pressure from the outside, but we know our jobs and what is asked of us on the pitch and that experience helps in those big pressure moments."

Guardiola will now look to guide his side to their fifth league title in six years and heralded the support from the club's board as well as the quality of his players for his remarkable success at the Manchester club. 

"This club gave me everything, from the hierarchy," he said.

"I remember the first season when we didn’t win, they supported me unconditionally. We were lucky as a team with how the way Liverpool pushed us in the previous seasons and this season, Arsenal – they got 50 points in the first half of the season. We want to win, why should we stop, it’s not necessary.

"I’ve been at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City. The incredible qualities of the players I have had at my disposal – it’s work ethic, the rest is quality."

Manchester City took the Premier League title race into their own hands with a 4-1 demolition job of leaders Arsenal on Wednesday.

Three straight draws saw Arsenal hand City the initiative before the Gunners' trip to the Etihad Stadium, and Pep Guardiola's side showed little mercy in a stunning display of dominance.

Kevin De Bruyne came to the fore, scoring either side of John Stones' header, which City's playmaker teed up.

Rob Holding snatched a consolation late on, but Erling Haaland ensured he had the last word with a goal that saw him break the record for goals in a 38-game Premier League season, as City made their point.

City were convinced they should have had a penalty inside three minutes, yet De Bruyne was adjudged to have fouled Thomas Partey after Aaron Ramsdale fumbled Jack Grealish's cross.

De Bruyne was wheeling away in celebration soon after, though. Having latched onto Haaland's superb touch, the Belgian beat Ramsdale with a sublime finish into the bottom-right corner. 

White and Ramsdale denied De Bruyne and Haaland respectively as City hunted a second, before the latter drilled wide at the end of a menacing run.

Ramsdale thwarted Haaland again, but Arsenal's resolve was punctured for a second time on the stroke of the interval – Stones heading home from De Bruyne's pinpoint free-kick, with the goal awarded after a VAR check on the linesman's offside call.

Haaland's battle with Ramsdale continued after the break, and Arsenal's goalkeeper again came out on top with a superb one-on-one save.

But Haaland turned provider for City's third in the 54th minute, playing a slick one-two with De Bruyne, whose crisp finish flashed beyond Ramsdale.

Partey lashing out at Grealish's taunts was as close as Arsenal came to laying a glove on City before Holding curled home with four minutes remaining.

Haaland, though, got his goal with the final kick of the game, as City emphatically took matters into their own hands.

Pascal Gross has signed an extension to his deal at Brighton and Hove Albion, meaning Seagulls fans can expect their team to keep creating plenty of chances.

The 31-year-old has been at Brighton since arriving from Ingolstadt in 2017, contributing 23 goals and 33 assists in 184 Premier League games for the club.

Since Gross came to England's top-flight in Brighton's first season after promotion from the Championship, only Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne (535) has created more chances than his 388, ahead of Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold (381) and Mohamed Salah (361).

Brighton announced on Wednesday that the German midfielder has extended his stay at the Amex Stadium until 2025.

Pep Guardiola hailed Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne's "special connection" after their eighth Premier League goal combination of the season.

The pair were key once again as City beat lowly Leicester City 3-1 on Saturday.

Haaland scored twice to take his goal tally in the league to 32, matching Mohamed Salah's record for a 38-game season. 

His second goal came when he latched onto a precise De Bruyne throughball, marking the eighth time the Belgium international has teed up a Haaland strike in the top flight this term.

That is one off the joint record of nine, shared by Tottenham duo Harry Kane and Son Heung-min and ex-Liverpool forwards Stan Collymore and Robbie Fowler.

"I think the connection between Erling and Kevin is obvious," Guardiola said. "I think Kevin needs the runners to do his biggest quality.

"Erling needs an assist player to make his positive runs. It's a natural way. We talk a lot about 'take a look at him when he runs and put the ball there'.

"When the ball is correct, and he has this space, he is unstoppable. We know it. But they have a special connection and you can see this.

"But what I like about that second goal is Kevin won the duel. I love that. He won the duel and after that, the run and finish from Erling was fantastic."

De Bruyne's eight assists to Haaland is three more than any other Premier League player has managed to a team-mate this term, with Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes having set up Marcus Rashford on five occasions.

Victory over Leicester, combined with Arsenal's 2-2 draw against West Ham, means City are just four points off the Gunners with a game in hand.

The title rivals will meet on April 26, in what looks set to be the decisive clash.

Kevin De Bruyne became the second player to reach 100 Premier League assists for one club as the Manchester City playmaker teed up Erling Haaland for the hosts' third goal in a 3-1 win over Leicester City.

The result cut Arsenal's lead to three points at the top of the table, ahead of the Gunners' trip to West Ham on Sunday.

Saturday's games saw Ollie Watkins remain in eye-catching form for Aston Villa, but there were grim home defeats for London giants Chelsea and Tottenham as Brighton and Hove Albion and Bournemouth celebrated impressive victories.

Here Stats Perform, guided by notable Opta match facts, unpicks the finer detail from the day's Premier League action.

Manchester City 3-1 Leicester City: Haaland and De Bruyne star as City keep pressure on

Armed with a 3-0 lead after 25 minutes, Manchester City took their foot off the pedal and Leicester gained a foothold, but the Foxes rarely get much from this fixture. It is 11 wins in their last 13 league games against Leicester now for Pep Guardiola's team, and five wins from as many meetings.

City are on a 10-match winning streak across all competitions, which they have bettered only twice during the Guardiola era, having a run of 21 wins from December 2020 to March 2021, and an 11-game run from August to October in 2017.

Haaland scored twice to take his goals tally to 32 in the top flight, ever closer to the Premier League record of 34 in a single campaign, while De Bruyne's pass that set up the Norway striker's second meant he completed 100 assists for City. Ryan Giggs, with 162 for Manchester United, is the only other player to reach a century of assists for one club in the Premier League.

De Bruyne has now assisted 10 goals for Haaland across all competitions this season, and that is the most assists any one player has had for the young goal machine with a top-flight club, beating Jadon Sancho's nine when he and Haaland were team-mates at Borussia Dortmund in the 2020-21 campaign.

Leicester remain deep in relegation trouble, with the 2015-16 Premier League champions having taken just eight points from 16 games in the competition (W2 D2 L12), losing eight of their past nine.

 

Aston Villa 3-0 Newcastle United: Watkins and Villa hit half-century marks as Emery revival gathers pace

Aston Villa were hovering precariously closely to the relegation zone when Steven Gerrard was sacked in October. A sensational recovery continued as they steamrollered third-placed Newcastle on Saturday, with their winning run in the Premier League now at five games.

They last reached five wins in a row in the competition on this corresponding weekend 25 years ago, when John Gregory was boss, and Saturday's result means Newcastle's Eddie Howe has lost his last four league clashes with Villa manager Unai Emery, who was previously in charge of Arsenal, by an 11-2 aggregate.

Villa have reached 50 points from 31 games, the earliest they have achieved that tally since they got there in 29 matches in 2009-10, and Watkins has been a key figure in the team's resurgence.

The England striker added to Jacob Ramsey's opener, which came from Watkins' headed assist, by netting a second-half double to take the game away from the Magpies.

Watkins' 50th, 51st and 52nd goal involvements for Villa (39 goals and 13 assists) came in his 102nd Premier League game for the team, with only Christian Benteke (88 games) having reached 50 in fewer games in the competition for the club. Watkins has 12 goals and three assists on Premier League duty since the World Cup, with only Haaland (16) having more goal involvements during this time.

Chelsea 1-2 Brighton and Hove Albion: Seagulls swoop for Stamford Bridge scalp

Brighton substitutes Danny Welbeck and Julio Enciso did the damage, and Chelsea could have no complaints. In terms of expected goals (xG), Brighton bossed this, ending with 2.28 compared to the hosts' 0.60.

After failing to win against Chelsea in 14 Premier League matches, Brighton have done the double this season, having won 4-1 at home in October.

Chelsea's winless run at home in the league now stands at four matches (D2 L2), and that is their worst streak since taking just one point from their final five games at Stamford Bridge in the 2015-16 season.

Only Manchester United (10) have had more goals from substitutes than Brighton (8) in the Premier League this season, and those two sides meet next weekend in the semi-final stage of the FA Cup.

Tottenham 2-3 Bournemouth: Echoes of Balotelli as Outtara stuns Spurs

Tottenham have Aston Villa and Brighton in hot pursuit after this shock reverse, with Dango Ouattara getting Bournemouth's winner four minutes and 11 seconds into stoppage time.

It was the latest winning goal Bournemouth have ever scored in the Premier League, as well as being the second-latest winning goal scored against Spurs by any team on record since 2006-07, after Mario Balotelli's strike for Manchester City in January 2012, which came after four minutes and 39 seconds of added time.

This was Bournemouth's first away league win against Tottenham, after losing on all five previous attempts, and it marked the first time Spurs have lost at home when taking the lead since a 3-2 setback against Southampton in February of last year.

Bournemouth have won five of their last nine Premier League games and have remarkably leapt six points clear of the bottom three, having won just five of their previous 25 matches. Dominic Solanke scored the Cherries' second and provided assists for their two other goals, scoring and assisting in the same Premier League game for the third time this season, with no player having done so on more occasions.

Virgil van Dijk may have struggled for Liverpool this season but Jamie Carragher says no centre-back in the Premier League has ever had a greater impact on their team.

Carragher jumped to the defence of the Reds centre-back on Twitter, suggesting Van Dijk was far better than former Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic and had performed on the same level as Kevin De Bruyne in recent years.

That came after Liverpool's entertaining 2-2 draw with Arsenal at Anfield on Sunday, when Jurgen Klopp's defence left much to be desired as Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus fired in the first half.

Van Dijk's performances have repeatedly been questioned this season, with Carragher delivering a scathing assessment of the defender after Liverpool's 5-2 Champions League home thrashing by Real Madrid in February.

While former Reds captain Carragher acknowledged the disappointing nature of the Netherlands international's season, he believes no centre-back comes close to Van Dijk in the Premier League era.

Responding to another tweet criticising Van Dijk's form, Carragher wrote: "VVD [Van Dijk] is far better than Vidic, who was a top CB [centre-back], but have you forgot [Vidic's] performances against [Liverpool's Fernando] Torres?

"Rio [Ferdinand] and JT [John Terry] had poor seasons in their career like all players, VVD is having one now. No CB in the PL era has ever had VVD's impact on a team."

Seemingly irked by football followers questioning Van Dijk, Carragher doubled down on his defence of the 31-year-old, likening his impact on the Premier League to City's De Bruyne.

"Never mind the best CB in the league, he's been the best player in the league along with KDB [De Bruyne] for four years before this one," Carragher added.

"We have never spoken about other CBs being the best player before, that shows the level he was at."

When questioned on the topic of impact, with Vidic's five Premier League titles, one Champions League and three EFL Cups at Manchester United put to him, Carragher insisted Van Dijk still reigns supreme.

"If you or anyone thinks Vidic is better than VVD you're not watching the same game! He's miles better!!"

Manchester City put pressure on Premier League leaders Arsenal ahead of their trip to Liverpool on Sunday with an emphatic 4-1 victory at Southampton.

Erling Haaland's double took him to 30 Premier League goals in 27 games, just 70 shy of Son Heung-min's career total in his eighth season in England after the South Korea international made history on Saturday.

The race for the other top-four places behind Arsenal and City saw Manchester United and Newcastle United both win, while Tottenham remain three points back after riding their luck against Brighton and Hove Albion.

Stats Perform looks at some of the more notable Opta numbers to come out of the pick of Saturday's Premier League action.

Manchester United 2-0 Everton: Wasteful Red Devils still win comfortably

After goals from Scott McTominay and Anthony Martial either side of half-time, United have won 39 Premier League games against Everton, the joint-most one side have against another in the competition's history (also 39 wins for United against Spurs).

Erik ten Hag's men have won 23 of their 28 home games in all competitions this season (D3 L2), their highest total of wins in a single campaign at Old Trafford since 2010-11 (26).

As they continue to fight relegation, Everton have won just one of their last 17 away Premier League games (D7 L9) and remain winless on the road since a 2-1 victory at Southampton in October (11 games since).

McTominay's strike was his fifth in five games for club and country, as many as in his previous 106 appearances for United and Scotland combined.

Ten Hag bemoaned his side's wastefulness as United failed to convert seven big chances – six of which came in the first half – their joint-highest total on record (since 2010-11) in a league match (also seven vs Sunderland in December 2012).

 

Brentford 1-2 Newcastle United: Bees stung by Magpies

Brentford started well in this one but ultimately failed to win a Premier League game in which they had opened the scoring for the first time (P26 W19 D6 L1), while Newcastle have lost just one of their last five away league games in which they have conceded first (W2 D2), winning the last two.

Eddie Howe has won exactly 100 Premier League points as Newcastle boss (P56 W28 D16 L12), with only fan favourite Kevin Keegan needing fewer games (51) to reach that milestone.

Ivan Toney became just the fourth player to score home and away against Newcastle in a Premier League campaign having previously played for them in the competition, following Louis Saha (2001-02), Craig Bellamy (2008-09) and Abdoulaye Faye (2008-09).

Before netting from the spot, though, Toney failed to score a penalty for the first time since October 2018 for Peterborough United against Barnsley when he saw his first effort saved by Nick Pope, having scored 24 successive penalties before Saturday (excluding shoot-outs).

A David Raya own goal drew Newcastle level, then Alexander Isak scored his eighth Premier League goal to take the points. Seven of those have either drawn Newcastle level (two) or given them the lead (five).

Tottenham 2-1 Brighton and Hove Albion: Son reaches landmark while Seagulls are left to fume

Brighton suffered their first defeat in eight Premier League games on the road (W4 D3) since a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City in October, although they will be tempted to lay a lot of the blame at the door of the officials.

Seagulls boss Roberto Di Zerbi was furious with two goals being ruled out for alleged handballs, while Kaoru Mitoma was also denied what looked like a very good shout for a penalty. The Italian then became the first manager to be sent off twice in the Premier League this season. Cristian Stellini was also dismissed.

For Son, though, it was a landmark day as his terrific opener made him the first Asian player to score 100 Premier League goals, while he is just the 10th player in the league's history to score 100 goals and register 50 assists for one team – and the first to do so for Spurs.

Lewis Dunk equalised in his 200th Premier League appearance, with each of the last four players to mark that milestone in such a way now having been centre-backs  (also Kurt Zouma, Virgil van Dijk and Ben Mee).

But after the controversy at the other end, Harry Kane won it for Tottenham with his 10th goal in 12 appearances for the club against Brighton in all competitions. The Seagulls are the ninth team he has reached double-figures against in his career, along with Leicester City, Everton, Arsenal, Southampton, West Ham, Burnley, Crystal Palace and Stoke City.

 

Southampton 1-4 Manchester City

Kevin De Bruyne was back to his sensational best at St Mary's, registering his 100th Premier League assist, making him the fifth player to reach that mark and doing so in fewer appearances (237) than any of the previous four.

Haaland's brace, including an outrageous bicycle kick, meant he has scored 44 goals in all competitions for City this season – the joint-most ever by a Premier League player in a single campaign, level with Ruud van Nistelrooy (2002-03) and Mohamed Salah (2017-18).

De Bruyne laid on the opener and has assisted seven Premier League goals for Haaland this season, the most one City player has ever assisted for another in a single campaign.

Jack Grealish teed up the other Haaland goal and also got on the scoresheet. He has now been involved in 10 goals in 15 league games since the World Cup (four goals, six assists). Only Haaland (14) has been involved in more for Pep Guardiola's team in that time, while it is three more than Grealish managed in his first 34 appearances for City (four goals, three assists).

Julian Alvarez replaced Haaland and dispatched a second-half penalty, becoming the fifth different City player to score as a substitute in the Premier League this season, with only United and Wolves (six) having more.

Manchester City moved back to five points behind leaders Arsenal as Erling Haaland's double helped them to a 4-1 Premier League victory against rock-bottom Southampton at St Mary's.

Pep Guardiola's team were shocked 2-0 by Saints when they met in the EFL Cup quarter-finals in January, but there was never a sign of a repeat on Saturday as the visitors dominated.

Haaland gave them the lead with a powerful header as Kevin De Bruyne reached 100 Premier League assists for his career, before Grealish doubled the lead with an alert finish not long into the second half.

Haaland scored his 30th Premier League goal of the season before Julian Alvarez converted a penalty as City cruised to a fifth successive league win. Sekou Mara scored a Saints consolation with a fine finish.

City carved open the hosts within five minutes, a sweeping move ending with Gavin Bazunu making a good stop to deny Grealish.

Haaland went close to putting the visitors in front when he headed just wide, but he would not miss the target a second time.

De Bruyne's delightful cross picked out the former Borussia Dortmund striker, who crashed a header past Bazunu and into the back of the net to give City the lead in the 45th minute.

Grealish made it 2-0 shortly after the interval, Bazunu making a good stop from his initial effort before the winger coolly buried his rebound.

Haaland added his second and City's third with a spectacular bicycle kick, lashing home from Grealish's teasing delivery.

Mara pulled a goal back when he rifled into the bottom-left corner, but Alvarez rounded off the scoring from the spot in the 75th minute when he slotted home after Kyle Walker-Peters felled De Bruyne.

Kevin De Bruyne became only the fifth player to reach 100 Premier League assists when he set up Manchester City's opener in their away match at Southampton on Saturday.

De Bruyne's teasing cross was headed home by Erling Haaland, taking him up to a century of assists.

The Belgium international is the quickest to reach that landmark, doing so in just 237 games, with Cesc Fabregas the next fastest having produced 100 in 293 appearances, while Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard are the three other players to have reached three figures.

All but one of De Bruyne's assists were in a City shirt, with the other coming during his time with Chelsea, who he played for between 2012 and 2014 before returning to the Premier League with the City in 2015 after a spell with Wolfsburg.

The playmaker could move further up the all-time assists charts before the end of the season, with Lampard on 102 and Rooney on 103 in his sights.

Manchester City's 4-1 victory over Liverpool on Saturday showed they can cope without Erling Haaland, believes Kevin De Bruyne.

The forward, who leads the Premier League charts with 28 goals this term, missed out on his side's clash with the Reds through injury.

Despite his absence, Pep Guardiola's hosts still ran rampant at the Etihad Stadium to keep up the pressure on Arsenal in the title race.

For De Bruyne, victory reinforced the suggestion City can cope without their first-choice frontman, with the Belgian pointing to Argentina's World Cup winner Julian Alvarez as a handy understudy.

"Erling is an unbelievable player, but we've been winning loads of games in the last eight years that I've been here," he told City's website.

"He's an additional piece that helps us a lot, but we know if he's not there, we have Julian who is a World Cup winner.

"I don't think it's a bad replacement we have as a team-mate. Everybody knows their task and whoever is on the pitch will do the job."

Saturday's result saw City stay eight points off the heels of the Gunners, with a game in hand as they aim to reel them in at the summit.

Though their title chances are technically out of their own hands, De Bruyne still expects them to push Arsenal all the way, as they also compete in the FA Cup and Champions League.

"Obviously, we know we are behind," he added. "We are still doing a really good job and are playing in three competitions.

"To be [at] this stage of the season and to be there means you've been consistent.

"In the league, Arsenal have been a little bit better than us, but we can try and win as many games as possible and see where we end up."

Manchester City put pressure on Arsenal in the Premier League title race with a convincing 4-1 win against Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium.

Defending champions City were without the injured Erling Haaland but goals from Julian Alvarez, Kevin De Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan and Jack Grealish saw them emphatically respond to Mohamed Salah's early opener.

The win closed the gap at the top to five points ahead of Arsenal's game against Leeds United later on Saturday as City clinched their fourth league win in a row.

It was the latest blow to Liverpool's hopes of clinching a top-four spot, with Jurgen Klopp's men staying five points behind Newcastle United in fifth and seven behind Tottenham in fourth.

It was Liverpool who went in front in the 17th minute as they played out from the back before Trent Alexander-Arnold's long ball found Diogo Jota, who raced through and held off Manuel Akanji before Salah ran onto the loose ball and smashed it into the net.

That lead lasted just 10 minutes as a neat move from City ended with Gundogan playing in Grealish down the left and he provided a low cross for Alvarez to execute a simple finish past Alisson.

It took less than a minute of the second half for City to go ahead as a long ball was played out to Riyad Mahrez, who played an inch-perfect ball across from the right to De Bruyne for a tap-in.

The third was not far behind as Gundogan put away a close-range finish after good work from Alvarez, while Grealish added a fourth following a neat one-two with De Bruyne to wrap up an ominous performance as far as Arsenal will be concerned.

Kevin De Bruyne revelled in a reinvigorated Belgium realising their potential as the new Red Devils captain hailed the "fun" approach Domenico Tedesco has instilled.

Manchester City superstar De Bruyne assisted two and scored another as Belgium defeated Germany 3-2 in Tuesday's friendly at RheinEnergieStadion.

That made new coach Tedesco the first Belgium manager to start his tenure with two victories since Rene Vandereycken in 2006.

Tedesco also became the first Belgium boss to see his side score six goals in his first two matches since 1999 when Robert Waseige's new side managed nine from their first pair of outings.

De Bruyne, whose 46 assists for his country are 15 more than any international team-mate since his August 2010 debut, lauded the early work Tedesco has delivered since Roberto Martinez's exit.

"It was a nice match. The first 30 minutes were very good, full of effort. It's good to see that we can be so good," De Bruyne said on television channel VTM. "After that it was a bit more difficult, but it is logical that you also get into trouble against a team like Germany.

"The last quarter of an hour was hard, but it is good to see that this team can do that too. The combinations were there, defensively it was also pretty good. There were many positives.

"It's fun to play like this, fun for everyone. Not only with the ball, also defensively. We try to put pressure on quickly and win the ball quickly. Then you get the ball back so much faster, that is also the intention of the coach. There were many good moments. 

"The coach has already laid a certain foundation, for example in terms of structure. His way of playing is already a bit there, but there are of course also times when it is still a bit difficult. 

"But after eight days together, I think this is the best we could do."

Belgium crashed out in the group stages at the World Cup in Qatar as Martinez waved goodbye to what many deem a golden generation of international footballers for the Red Devils.

Martinez's side finished third at FIFA's top international tournament four years before at Russia 2018, sandwiched in between a pair of quarter-final eliminations at the European Championships.

While it appears a vastly talented group of Belgian footballers may end their career without international reward, Tedesco's new era has offered early promise.

A rare win over Germany, who were stunned by early goals from Yannick Carrasco and Romelu Lukaku, coupled with Friday's 3-0 victory over Sweden in Euro 2024 qualifying have left Tedesco impressed.

"Yes, I am satisfied after these two victories," Tedesco said on VTM. "Not only with the result, but also with the way we played. Only we should have finished the game in the first half.

"I wanted my players to show courage, to play forward and to claim the ball, even when Germany put pressure on us. We have the players for it. We have to believe in our own strengths, but we have to maintain the quality we bring for 90 minutes. And that's the problem."

Belgium's elimination at the World Cup came as somewhat of a surprise, given their recent success at major tournaments, and Tedesco is out to offer his new players a lease of freedom.

"The players have qualities, they can play freely here and are allowed to make mistakes," he said at his post-match press conference.

"The most important thing is that they develop as a team and as individuals. We must help and guide them in this.

"It is crucial that the enthusiasm is back. I have a good feeling and am extremely motivated. However, we still have a lot of work to do. If you win, it's more fun, of course. 

"But I do not agree that Belgian football was at a standstill after the World Cup. Losing matches at a World Cup, that can happen."

Kevin De Bruyne produced an attacking masterclass as new Belgium coach Domenico Tedesco made it two wins in as many games with a 3-2 friendly triumph at Germany on Tuesday.

Tedesco's tenure started with a 3-0 victory over Sweden in Euro 2024 qualifying on Friday, and Belgium, inspired by new captain De Bruyne, impressed again at RheinEnergieStadion.

Germany had no answer inside the first nine minutes in Cologne as De Bruyne teed up goals for Yannick Carrasco and Romelu Lukaku.

Niclas Fullkrug's 44th-minute penalty offered Hansi Flick's hosts hope, but De Bruyne's slick 78th-minute finish ensured another victory at the start of a promising era under Tedesco as Serge Gnabry's late reply counted for little.

Carrasco fired Belgium into a sixth-minute lead after cutting inside from De Bruyne's pinpoint pass before coolly blasting into the roof of the net.

Another delicate De Bruyne throughball teed up Belgium's second, Lukaku racing through and lofting over an onrushing Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Dodi Lukebakio inexplicably dragged a glorious chance wide before Lukaku headed onto the crossbar from De Bruyne's corner, prompting Flick to make two 32nd-minute changes.

The injured Leon Goretzka and Florian Wirtz made way for Felix Nmecha and Emre Can, with Germany responding as Fullkrug converted his penalty after Lukaku was adjudged to have handled.

Germany ramped up the pressure after the interval as Gnabry smashed just wide before Timo Werner saw a strike ruled out for offside. Joshua Kimmich also went close with a whistling low strike.

But De Bruyne put the game out of reach, finishing into the bottom-right corner from Leandro Trossard's offload, making Gnabry's late strike from Kevin Schade's low cross – shortly after hitting the post – a mere consolation.

What does it mean? Flick warning as Belgium earn rare Germany win

Flick's side do not have to qualify for Euro 2024 due to hosting the tournament, but Germany cannot afford such early lapses in concentration at that showpiece competition.

Belgium had not beaten their hosts since 1954 but raced into the ascendancy after eight minutes and 26 seconds – their earliest 2-0 lead since February 2003 against Algeria.

Despite improving in response, Germany must show more if they are to build ahead of the Euros, with Flick needing a strong home performance after their group-stage exit at the World Cup in Qatar.

De Bruyne and Lukaku shine

Lukaku's treble against Sweden saw him join Robert De Veen on three hat-tricks for their country, the joint-most for Belgium.

The Inter loanee once again found the net here to continue his impressive form under Tedesco, although he could not have done so without De Bruyne, who created a game-leading three chances to go with his goal.

Fullkrug on fire

Fullkrug had to wait until November 2022 for his Germany debut in a pre-World Cup friendly against Oman – but he certainly has not looked back since then.

The Werder Bremen striker has scored six goals in his first six international appearances, with no Germany player this century managing as many goals in their first half-dozen outings.

What's next?

Belgium return to Euro 2024 qualifying action when they host Austria on June 17, while Germany are yet to confirm their next friendly opponents.

Leandro Trossard is delighted by his fast start in an Arsenal shirt and is optimistic of his new club's chances of winning the Premier League.

Trossard was a January signing for Mikel Arteta's side after the Belgium forward impressed in the first half of the season at Brighton and Hove Albion, scoring seven goals in 16 league games.

Since joining the league leaders, Trossard has only scored once but provided six assists in just 10 league games to help Arsenal rebuild an eight-point gap to Manchester City in second.

And the former Brighton has been surprised at how quickly he has settled.

"I maybe didn't expect to make that many minutes, but injuries helped me a bit. I’m however more than convinced of my own capabilities," Trossard said, speaking at a national team press conference on Wednesday. 

"I arrived in a great group, filled with great players. That also makes it easier for new players to adapt and reach their levels.

"It was a very busy and weird period for me, but I'm very happy that I have been able to join Arsenal. I think it's been a great step for me.

"We all know how difficult it is to win the league, looking at Man City and Liverpool in recent years, but I think we have a great squad and that we have proven time and time again that we're doing well. 

"There are 10 matches left, we'll see where we end once the season finishes."

The 28-year-old is set to feature heavily for Belgium after the retirement of fellow forward and former captain Eden Hazard.

City's Kevin De Bruyne has taken the armband, and Trossard is confident the midfielder and new head coach Domenico Tedesco will prove the difference as Belgium look to rally following their group-stage exit at the 2022 World Cup.

"[De Bruyne] has a lot of experience at the highest level," Trossard said. "He knows everybody here, since he's been here for a while already. 

"A lot of the younger guys look up to him – I think that's a really big advantage for a national team captain if people look up to you.

"We have a new manager, a new staff, and I'm excited to make this new start as well.

"We're looking sharp, everybody wants to prove themselves. We also have a lot of youngsters, there's a lot of renewed competition, and it's clear everybody wants to give it their all."

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