Pep Guardiola admits he faces a selection headache now that all of his Manchester City stars are back fit as the Premier League title race heats up.

Wednesday’s 3-1 win over Burnley saw Kevin De Bruyne make his first start since the opening day of the season following a hamstring injury, while Erling Haaland returned from a foot problem as a second-half substitute.

But it was again Julian Alvarez who was the star for City, with the Argentinian World Cup winner scoring twice in the first half as City cruised to victory.

The hosts took complete control when Rodri added a third early in the second half before Ameen Al-Dakhil got a late consolation for Vincent Kompany’s men.

Alvarez has enjoyed an extended run in Guardiola’s side this season, in large part thanks to De Bruyne’s absence and his brace took him to 15 goals for the campaign.

“For his age, for the numbers in the Premier League, for what he gives to all the team it is unbelievable,” Guardiola said.

“He’s a world champion playing alongside (Lionel) Messi, (Angel) Di Maria and Enzo Fernandez. If you are not good you cannot play in that team.

“He can play in three different positions and have an incredible sense with the intensity to run. He’s really good.”

That versatility could be key to Alvarez’s hopes of retaining his place in the City starting eleven.

“They can play together,” added. “They are exceptional players. It gives me more of a headache for selection but they need to compete with each other.”

After missing 10 games with a bone injury, Haaland started the night on the bench and came on to replace De Bruyne in the 71st minute. His first attempt at goal was a mis-kick, but Guardiola was pleased with the way he led the line.

Asked if he needed to be eased back in, Guardiola said: “If it was 7-0 at half-time he would have played more minutes. If it was 0-0 maybe he wouldn’t have played a minute.

“I saw him sharp, the feeling that he was there. He didn’t have clear chances but he has three or four, and the moment when Jeremy (Doku) didn’t see him but he can score with his quality.

“It has been really good without him for the last two months but with him we are a better team and we are really pleased that he is back.”

Burnley, without a top-flight win away to Manchester City since 1963, probably knew what to expect from the night, but at least took consolation from Al-Dakhil’s late goal, their first at the Etihad since 2019.

But the loss leaves them still deep in trouble, seven points adrift of safety with only 12 points from 22 games.

“It’s never great when you lose,” former City captain Kompany said. “They’re a great side, we know that. It felt like a lot had to go our way for us to get something.

“In moments we were dangerous. We could’ve avoided the goals. We have to move on against Fulham (on Saturday).

“My job is to give the guys support in these moments and hold them accountable. But we’re playing against a team that exploits every mistake… we’re showing bits that should make us confident.”

Kompany indicated he is still hopeful of some business before Thursday’s transfer deadline, but admitted finding game-changing signings was highly unlikely.

“I hope something will happen tomorrow,” he said. “We have to rely on the boys we have. You can make miracle transfers but they’re very difficult to find.”

Youngster Conor Bradley registered his first Liverpool goal and two assists as the Premier League leaders thumped Chelsea 4-1 at Anfield to go five points clear at the top.

The 20-year-old right-back fired into the bottom corner in the 39th minute to double the Reds’ lead having earlier provided the pass that led to Diogo Jota’s opener midway through the first half.

After Darwin Nunez sent a penalty against the post in first-half stoppage-time – one of four times he hit the woodwork – the advantage was extended in the 65th minute when Dominik Szoboszlai headed in from Bradley’s cross.

Christopher Nkunku replied before Luis Diaz wrapped things up for Jurgen Klopp’s men as they made it 15 league matches unbeaten, and four successive wins, in their first top-flight outing since the German’s announcement that he is to step down as boss at the end of the season.

A miserable evening for Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea ended a three-match winning run as they stayed 10th.

Manchester City, who have played a game fewer than Liverpool, returned to second place with their fourth league victory on the bounce, beating struggling Burnley 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium.

Julian Alvarez netted twice on his 24th birthday and Rodri also got on the scoresheet before top-scorer Erling Haaland make his comeback from injury as a 71st-minute substitute.

Ameen Al-Dakhil netted a stoppage-time consolation for second-bottom Burnley, managed by ex-City captain Vincent Kompany, as Pep Guardiola’s treble-winners went above Arsenal on goal difference.

Tottenham moved into the top four after a flurry of goals early in the second half helped them come from behind to beat Brentford 3-2 at home.

Neal Maupay’s effort for the Bees on the quarter-hour mark was cancelled out three minutes into the second half by Destiny Udogie.

Brennan Johnson then put Spurs ahead a minute later, with Richarlison adding a further goal for the hosts seven minutes on from that.

Ivan Toney subsequently reduced the deficit in the 67th minute but Ange Postecoglou’s team emerged with the three points to leapfrog Aston Villa in the table.

Julian Alvarez struck twice and Erling Haaland returned to action as Manchester City eased to a 3-1 win over relegation-threatened Burnley.

Argentinian World Cup-winner Alvarez, on his 24th birthday, netted twice in the first half and Rodri added a third as the champions went untroubled until Ameen Al-Dakhil grabbed a stoppage-time consolation at the Etihad Stadium.

City were further cheered by the sight of Haaland returning from injury as a late substitute while Kevin De Bruyne made his first Premier League start since August.

It was a miserable return to the ground for former City captain Vincent Kompany, the Burnley manager, with his side comprehensively beaten and left seven points adrift of safety.

Given their predicament and having conceded 37 goals in their previous nine visits to the Etihad, the Clarets were hardly expected to trouble the treble winners.

Yet this was an especially limp performance and City, aided by some poor defending, barely got out of second gear.

After 15 minutes of the home side calmly controlling possession, Phil Foden caught the visitors off-guard as he released Matheus Nunes with a flicked ball.

The Portuguese’s first cross was blocked but he was given all the time he needed to attempt it for a second time, and casually picked out an unmarked Alvarez to head home from close range.

Burnley were caught napping again just six minutes later as the striker doubled City’s lead from a cleverly-taken set-piece.

De Bruyne spotted a huge gap in the area as he lined up a free-kick and played a low ball in for Alvarez to turn and slot past former City youngster James Trafford.

It was a routine that had clearly been worked on in training as manager Pep Guardiola made a point of congratulating his assistant Carlos Vicens, a dead-ball specialist.

City threatened more as Nunes tested Trafford from a tight angle and a dangerous Jeremy Doku cross was turned behind.

Burnley had a rare chance when Lyle Foster curled an effort narrowly wide but City tightened their grip in the opening minute of the second half.

Foden was again instrumental as he raced onto a De Bruyne throughball and pulled back for Rodri, who nonchalantly passed into the net from the edge of the area.

Burnley had a fleeting opportunity as Zeki Amdouni blazed over and their frustration was evident as Connor Roberts got involved in a needless confrontation with Rico Lewis and Ederson.

After that the biggest cheers from City fans came as Haaland entered the fray 19 minutes from time.

He was unable to find the net despite some good runs and one air shot.

Burnley had the final say when Al-Dakhil turned in a cross from debutant David Datro Fofana’s cross but the outcome had long since been determined.

Manchester City have completed a move for highly-rated Argentinian midfielder Claudio Echeverri from River Plate, the Premier League champions have announced.

The 18-year-old, who is understood to have cost City in the region of £12.5million with add-ons, has signed a contract until the summer of 2028, but will remain at River until January next year.

A statement on the club’s official website said: “Manchester City have completed the signing of Argentinian midfielder Claudio Echeverri from River Plate.

“Everyone at Manchester City is looking forward to welcoming Claudio to the club and we wish him the best of luck in his remaining time with River.”

Echeverri will travel the same path as Julian Alvarez, who arrived at the Etihad Stadium from River Plate in 2022.

The teenager, who turned 18 earlier this month, has already made six senior appearances for the Buenos Aries club, which is managed by former City defender Martin Demichelis, and captained Argentina to the semi-finals of the Under-17 World Cup in November and December last year.

Echeverri, who has trained with the senior national team, scored a hat-trick in a 3-0 quarter-final victory over Brazil, but saw his side lose out on penalties to Germany in the last four.

Kevin De Bruyne made an eye-catching return and Phil Foden struck twice as holders Manchester City thrashed Huddersfield 5-0 in the FA Cup third round.

Julian Alvarez and Jeremy Doku were also on target as City – further aided by an own goal – swept aside their Championship opponents in a one-sided third-round tie at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

The impact of the in-form Foden was again impressive but De Bruyne’s comeback, after five months out, was arguably of greater significance.

The Belgian was given just over half an hour at the end of the game and he marked the occasion by teeing up a goal for fellow returnee Doku.

His presence brought some of the biggest cheers of the afternoon from the home fans, whose noise was drowned out by that of the 6,000-strong visiting support early on.

Yet Huddersfield, not surprisingly given their struggles in the second tier this season, could not match the intensity of their fans as City, without hitting top gear, comfortably outplayed them.

The visitors resisted well for the opening half an hour, limiting Alvarez to a long-range shot which was comfortably saved by Lee Nicholls while Oscar Bobb had an effort unwittingly blocked by team-mate Rico Lewis.

The visitors showed some spirit by launching a handful of counter-attacks but the final ball was generally lacking.

Sorba Thomas did get through on goal on one occasion but he failed to beat Stefan Ortega and the offside flag indicated it would not have counted anyway.

City suffered a blow when Manuel Akanji limped off after a heavy challenge from Alex Matos, who was booked, but they soon began to step up the pressure.

Huddersfield were pegged back as Sergio Gomez had a low ball turned behind and a Foden shot was deflected to safety.

The opener came on 33 minutes as Mateo Kovacic slipped in Alvarez and his firm pass was well taken and rifled in by Foden at close range.

The second followed just four minutes later as Matheus Nunes linked with Foden and then found Lewis, who squared for Alvarez to stretch and poke home.

Bobb went close early in the second half as he cut inside but dragged his shot wide.

De Bruyne was introduced on 57 minutes in a double change that also saw Doku make his return from injury.

City claimed their third goal moments later as Nunes controlled a high ball and played wide to Bobb, whose attempted cross to De Bruyne at the far post flicked off Ben Jackson and looped into the net.

Huddersfield had a brief flurry as Thomas forced Ortega to save with his feet when through one on one but City’s fourth was not long in coming.

Again Foden did the damage, calmly stroking the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the area from a well-worked short-corner routine.

De Bruyne created the fifth as he surged upfield, played a one-two with Bobb and then pulled the ball back for Doku to thump in on the half-volley.

Pep Guardiola played down the significance of his side’s victory over Sheffield United on Saturday despite it increasing the pressure at the top of the Premier League.

Goals from Rodri and Julian Alvarez at the Etihad Stadium saw the champions wrap up a memorable 2023 – a year in which they won five trophies – with a comfortable 2-0 victory over the struggling Blades.

The result lifted City within two points of leaders Liverpool at the end of a draining month in which they played nine matches, including two in Saudi Arabia at the Club World Cup.

That could be viewed as ominous for the rest of the competition but City manager Guardiola did not want to be drawn into such talk.

Guardiola said: “What we have done in the past doesn’t mean it is going to happen in the future. The future is happy New Year and three days off, and after that it is Huddersfield. No further than that.

“Except for two or three games, we were better than the opponents and could not get the results we deserved – but it is business and you have to win games.

“Today we did it and I’m really pleased for the guys. It was an intense month.”

Guardiola felt City were initially below their best but was pleased with the way they roused themselves.

He said: “The first half was a little bit flat. The body language of the players – they didn’t communicate, didn’t talk, didn’t laugh, didn’t shout.

“It was ‘OK, I have to play a football game’, but football games cannot be played in that way.

“At half-time, for the first time, I didn’t talk one word about tactics. I took a chair and sat and said, ‘Guys go out with a smile on your face and with another rhythm in terms of enjoying what you’re doing. We are not going to do what happened against Crystal Palace’.”

“In the second half, the first 15 minutes were the best minutes that we did.”

Guardiola also hailed an “incredible effort” from Jack Grealish, who started for City after a difficult few days following a burglary at his house.

Defeat left Sheffield United bottom of the table but manager Chris Wilder found positives in the attitude of his players.

He said: “It felt like we played football for about five hours. At the start, when you are walking out, and you see five trophies, it hits home to you and what you are up against.

“We were light in terms of Premier League experience but what we weren’t light on is fight or character, and that has delighted me since I walked through the door.

“It is incredibly difficult to come here, even for the top teams. We stuck at it and it was great experience for the young lads to learn. There is no downside from this game.”

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes their 3-1 victory in a “massive” game at Everton will serve as a reminder to their rivals not to write them off.

City arrived back from Saudi Arabia as Club World Cup winners looking to correct a record which had seen them win just once in six Premier League matches and drop off the pace in the title race.

But while they were away, results went in their favour which meant winning their two matches in hand on Liverpool would reduce the deficit at the top to just two points, and the first of those was achieved after they recovered from former winger Jack Harrison’s opener with goals from Phil Foden, Julian Alvarez – from the penalty spot – and Bernardo Silva.

“Really, really important. It was a massive game for us, coming from Saudi Arabia,” said Guardiola.

“We were really pleased with how we reacted and it proved again how special this group of players is and the mentality that we have in our bones.

“We want to be there. I know we are not top of the league, (but) a lot of things are going to happen.

“I never saw a Premier League where every game the teams down low and mid-table can beat everyone. There will be a lot of surprises and the thing is to be there.”

Guardiola said the Club World Cup was not only a distraction, but also helped refocus the players’ minds.

“I remember on the plane coming back from Saudi Arabia I listened to the players when they didn’t know I was listening and they started to talk about Everton,” he added.

“I said ‘wow, this is my team’. I have the feeling they still want to try.

“We play many games this season and people say we are not the same. We have lost one of the last 13 (not including the Club World Cup). We don’t talk enough about how good we are.”

The only downside to the game was an ankle problem for John Stones, who left the stadium wearing a protective boot, on only his fifth Premier League start of a season already significantly affected by injury.

“Hopefully the damage isn’t big and he can come back soon,” said the City boss, who is also hopeful Erling Haaland and midfielder Kevin De Bruyne will be available soon.

Haaland has missed six matches with a foot problem while De Bruyne has not played since August because of a hamstring injury.

“He (Haaland) is training alone and getting better, it’s a question of when the pain will disappear,” he said.

“He’s not a skinny guy like Phil Foden, he’s huge and tall so it is more difficult sometimes.

“Kevin is close, but he had fatigue yesterday and we have to be careful. If you don’t handle the timings good you can get injured again.

“I’d love for him to play the next game or Huddersfield (in the FA Cup), but what is important is keeping him fit for a long time, not for one game or another.”

Everton manager Sean Dyche was frustrated by the award of the penalty for handball against Amadou Onana that allowed City to take the lead through Alvarez, but did not use it as an excuse.

“I don’t have a clue. No-one does. Is that deliberate? Of course not. I don’t know where you are supposed to put your hands,” he said.

“The lawmakers are making all these mad rules. I don’t know why they don’t leave the game alone. All the managers are frustrated with it. Maybe the referees are. The players definitely are.

“If he deliberately did that he must be some keeper. His reactions were cat-like. I’ve never seen anything like it.

“But they are still a top side. We know they make chances and you have to try to stop those, which we didn’t do.”

Manchester City survived a testing encounter at Goodison Park as they came from behind to beat Everton 3-1 and climb back into the top four.

The newly-crowned Club World Cup winners recovered from going behind to former winger Jack Harrison’s first-half goal to score twice after the break through a beauty from Phil Foden and a Julian Alvarez penalty.

Late on, Bernardo Silva curled home into an empty net after the otherwise excellent Jordan Pickford had his kick charged down to leave Everton a point above the relegation zone.

It was only City’s second win in seven league matches, but was enough to bring second-placed Arsenal within their sights and Liverpool not much further away.

However, the loss of John Stones, making only his fifth Premier League start this season due to injury, and an eighth successive Premier League game without a clean sheet were less welcome.

With Liverpool and Arsenal drawing just before Christmas, City returned victorious from Saudi Arabia knowing winning their two games in hand would leave them just a couple of points behind Jurgen Klopp’s side at the summit.

Had it not been for some wayward shooting and, more significantly, Jordan Pickford, they would probably have been coasting towards the first of those wins before half-time.

The England number one’s most important intervention came in the 14th minute when he saved Matheus Nunes’ shot and then stuck out a foot to narrowly divert wide Alvarez’s rebound. He also later denied Jack Grealish.

And without Erling Haaland for a sixth successive game – the Norway international’s foot injury is also expected to keep him out of the weekend’s visit of Sheffield United – Pep Guardiola’s side started to look a bit toothless.

That has been a longer-term problem for Everton but scoring from your first shot on target always helps and when Rodri was pressured into an uncharacteristic loss of possession on the edge of his own area by Beto the home side pounced.

Dwight McNeil laid on his third assist in five games as Harrison sidefooted home from close range, with the former City winger almost scoring a spectacular second with Ederson at full stretch to tip over his swerving outside-of-the-left-foot effort.

City were more than happy to leave Beto, making his first start in six games but with two goals in his last five appearances, one-on-one at the back and that almost backfired when Pickford picked him out only for the striker’s clumsiness allowing Stones to recover and clear, injuring himself in the process.

Guardiola was furious with the assistant referee for not flagging for offside and his mood was not helped by the defender’s enforced departure just before half-time.

City needed just 19 minutes after the break to turn things around with Foden given too much space on the edge of the area from a corner to beat Pickford down by his left-hand post.

Silva extended the goalkeeper with a free-kick before Alvarez put them ahead when Nathan Ake’s shot hit Amadou Onana’s arm as he slid in to block.

Referee John Brooks awarded a corner before changing his mind and pointing to the spot, with Alvarez’s blast down the middle proving too powerful as it went underneath the diving Pickford’s legs.

When substitute Dominic Calvert-Lewin failed to turn home Harrison’s low cross from six yards, defeat was confirmed with Silva’s 20-yard effort into an unguarded net after collecting Alvarez’s block on the goalkeeper.

Manchester City’s Jack Grealish has denied being disrespectful towards Fluminense during Friday’s Club World Cup final victory.

Tempers briefly flared after the final whistle as City captain Kyle Walker and Fluminense defender Felipe Melo grappled in a heated argument.

Melo subsequently blamed Grealish for stoking tensions, claiming the City winger had shouted ‘ole’.

Grealish insisted that was not true, writing on the social media site X, formerly known as Twitter: “Not once did I say ole.”

The situation quickly calmed down before City lifted their fifth trophy of the year following a comprehensive 4-0 win over the Brazilian side in Saudi Arabia.

Julian Alvarez scored twice, with Phil Foden also netting in the second half after a Nino own goal had put City two up.

Pep Guardiola spoke of his pride after Manchester City thrashed Fluminense 4-0 to win the Club World Cup for the first time on Friday.

It was the club’s fifth trophy of a memorable 2023 after their previous successes in the Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup and European Super Cup.

Julian Alvarez began the rout after just 40 seconds, teed up another for Phil Foden and then wrapped up a one-sided victory in the closing minutes. City also benefited from an own goal as they overran their Brazilian opponents.

City manager Guardiola, who had previously won the competition three times, told the club’s website: “I am so proud of this club. What we have done is an outstanding achievement.

“To win this trophy is to be the best team in the world and our players, our coaches, our backroom staff, all of them work hard every single day to bring us this success.

“As a manager what I am most proud of (is) that we are always there. No matter how much we win, no matter what trophies we lift, we are there again to fight for the next one.

“To win the treble was truly special but to win two more trophies and now hold these five major titles shows the unique mentality of this team, of the club and its fans.

“It is something no other English team has ever achieved and we will always remember this incredible time we spent together.”

Foden, whose cross also forced the own goal, similarly hailed a momentous night in the club’s history.

The England midfielder said on TNT Sports: “We are not used to playing in this heat so it was difficult but we are delighted with the outcome. We’re over the ‘world’.

“This one is so important for the club. It’s the first time we’ve won it. We’re delighted and it’s massive for the club.”

Foden felt Fluminense, the Copa Libertadores winners, gave City a tough night.

“It was an unbelievable match,” he said. “Fair play to them, the way they play. I love the way they play – short passes.

“They are a great side and they didn’t make it easy but I thought the lads not only showed quality but heart and determination.”

Manchester City added the Club World Cup to last season’s treble with an emphatic 4-0 win over Brazilian side Fluminense in Jeddah on Friday.

Julian Alvarez struck twice, setting them on their way after just 40 seconds and wrapping up victory late on, while Phil Foden forced an own goal and grabbed the other himself.

It was manager Pep Guardiola’s fourth triumph in the competition but one that came at a cost as influential midfielder Rodri was forced off in the second half with an injury.

City, who were again without striker Erling Haaland due to a foot problem, now face an anxious wait over the Spaniard’s fitness ahead of the resumption of their Premier League title defence at Everton next Wednesday.

Rodri, who limped off after a challenge from Alexsander, has already missed four games through suspension this season and City have lost them all.

Yet for now City can celebrate their fifth trophy of 2023, having also claimed the European Super Cup in August.

They were far too strong for the ageing Copa Libertadores winners, who repeatedly invited pressure on to themselves.

City were gifted the perfect start when veteran former Real Madrid captain Marcelo – one of seven in the Fluminense starting line-up aged 33 or over – found Nathan Ake with an attempted crossfield pass from deep inside his own half.

Ake wasted no time as he thumped a long-range shot against a post and there was nothing goalkeeper Fabio could do as Alvarez crouched to make sure the rebound bounced in off his chest.

City did have a scare when Ederson gave the ball away and then brought down German Cano but were spared by an offside flag.

Apart from that, Fluminense rarely threatened and City doubled their lead when Rodri played in Foden and his ball across the box deflected off Nino and looped into the net.

Ederson was called upon to keep out a Jhon Arias header just before the break, but City almost claimed another when Jack Grealish tested Fabio from distance.

Fabio also produced a good double save to deny Foden and Bernardo Silva in quick succession early in the second half.

City’s third came as Rodri attempted to run off his injury, with Alvarez getting free down the left and crossing for Foden to slide in after 72 minutes.

Rodri was removed moments later, but Alvarez put the seal on success with a clean strike two minutes from time.

Erling Haaland struck twice as holders Manchester City moved a step closer to the Champions League knockout stages with a hard-fought 3-1 win at Young Boys.

Haaland put City back into the lead on the artificial surface at Bern’s Wankdorf Stadium after Switzerland international Manuel Akanji’s opener had been brilliantly cancelled out by Meschack Elia.

Substitute Julian Alvarez had an effort ruled out by VAR but Haaland made victory certain with a smart finish four minutes from time.

The win was City’s third in succession in Group G and they could now secure their spot in their last 16 for an 11th successive year with a follow-up victory over the Swiss side at home in a fortnight.

There had been much talk over the synthetic pitch in the build-up to the game and heavy rain added another variable element but it proved a free-flowing encounter.

Young Boys started well with Filip Ugrinic forcing a save from Ederson before Rodri headed wide from a corner.

Jack Grealish, who ignored the persistent booing of the vociferous home crowd, teed up Jeremy Doku with a superb first-time ball but the Belgian slipped as he cut inside and Anthony Racioppi saved.

The impressive Swiss keeper denied Haaland soon after but did have a moment of alarm when he spilled a Grealish shot. Matheus Nunes could only poke the loose ball weakly towards goal, however, and Loris Benito cleared off the line.

Doku went close again after switching from the right to left wing but Racioppi brilliantly saved his curling effort and blocked a first-time Rodri shot.

Young Boys had a good spell before the break with first Cedric Itten breaking clear but failing to beat Ederson.

Itten then teed up Sandro Lauper with a neat flick but Nathan Ake got back to block before a powerful Lewin Blum effort was turned behind. Itten went close again from the set-piece as his header dropped narrowly over.

While that made for a lively end to the first half, the game truly burst into life early in the second.

Akanji and Nunes both had chances before City grabbed the lead in the 48th minute. Rodri delivered a cross into the box and Ruben Dias, still forward following a corner, had a header tipped onto the bar by Racioppi. Akanji reacted the quickest to turn the ball in.

City went in immediate search of a second but were caught out after a Haaland shot was saved by Racioppi.

The ball was quickly sent to the other end and played into the path of Elia, who caught Ederson stranded off his line with a superb lob.

Young Boys were firmly back in the game and Itten forced Ederson into an awkward save with a swerving shot.

City stepped up the intensity and were awarded a penalty when Mohamed Ali Camara, moments after being booked, caught Rodri from behind. Haaland stepped up to thump home his 10th of the season.

City thought they had claimed another through Alvarez but his low strike was ruled out for a Grealish handball in the build-up.

It fell to Haaland to complete the job, the striker wrong-footing the defence just inside the box and then lifting into the top corner.

Pep Guardiola said Manchester City failed to properly execute their “process” and was keen to praise Wolves after his side’s 100 per cent start to their Premier League title defence ended with a 2-1 loss at Molineux.

City went into the contest looking to make it seven league victories at the start of a campaign for the first time.

But the treble-winners were condemned to defeat by Hwang Hee-chan’s 66th-minute finish, eight minutes after an early Ruben Dias own goal had been cancelled out by Julian Alvarez’s free-kick.

City boss Guardiola, who watched from the stands as he served a one-match ban for picking up three yellow cards, said: “Congratulations Wolves, they defended really well.

“We had our moments. We didn’t do properly our process, to attack (with) a little bit more fluidity and that’s why we struggled a little bit.

“And the transitions – (Pedro) Neto (who was key for the first goal) was better than us, so they beat us in that situation.

“When they defend that well, (Mateo) Kovacic or Ruben has to attack central defenders of the opponents and we didn’t do it, that was why it was more difficult.

“The opponent played really good, defended really well, and after, when they contact with the players up front, they had the ability to keep it and drive and dribble and drop you. They are so strong.

“Today some details didn’t happen, because it’s football, because the players, it happens, maybe I apply bad some decisions, I don’t know.”

City’s starting line-up included Matheus Nunes, signed from Wolves last month, with it reported that he had stopped training with the midlands outfit ahead of the move.

The Portuguese was the subject of boos and chants from the crowd during the first half before being brought off at the interval for Oscar Bobb.

Guardiola said, when asked why he had made the change: “I needed more dynamic. Oscar is really good to find in small spaces, the creativity he has.

“That was the reason why – not because he wasn’t playing not good at all. It’s just because I thought Oscar could give us something different.”

On having to watch from the stands, Guardiola said: “The view is perfect. The problem is when you are banned and you are in the hotel. But they allow you to be here…in the Champions League it cannot happen.

“I spoke before the game, half-time and after the game. During the game you can be involved in something, but not much.”

Julian Alvarez is revelling in his partnership with Erling Haaland in Manchester City’s attack.

The Argentinian World Cup winner continued his strong start to the season with two goals as the holders began their Champions League title defence with a comfortable 3-1 win over Red Star Belgrade on Tuesday.

An injury for Kevin De Bruyne has seen Alvarez handed a run of games in support of prolific centre forward Haaland and it is a role he is relishing.

“I am very happy with the goals, to help the team,” the 23-year-old said. “We are doing well, we are winning – which is the most important thing – and playing good games.

“I am trying to adapt and I continue growing in this position, where I am moving freely, to give the team another option and add to the attack.”

Alavarez was the dominant figure in City’s forward line as they threatened to overwhelm Red Star in their opening Group G game at the Etihad Stadium.

Yet despite creating a plethora of chances – with Haaland hitting the bar and goalkeeper Omri Glazer making several saves – City fell behind to an Osman Bukari strike just before half-time.

Alvarez began the fightback with a fine dinked finish after the restart and then put Pep Guardiola’s side ahead when his free-kick was inadvertently punched into the goal by Glazer.

Rodri wrapped up a thoroughly deserved victory with a typically composed finish 17 minutes from time but, again, City could have had several more. Haaland went the closest when he hit the goal frame for a second time.

“We played a good game,” said Alvarez. “It was important to start with a win and three points at home in this difficult competition. We are very happy.

“We had many chances we could not convert but Pep told us to keep doing what we were doing and the goals would come.

“It was the same in the previous game where we were losing and came back, so it was fine. We always try to stay calm, play well in the second half and win.”

Alvarez was not a regular starter last season, despite his starring role in his country’s World Cup triumph, but Guardiola believes he can do an important job in easing the goalscoring burden on Haaland.

Guardiola said: “It’s the same player as last season but being a World Cup winner doesn’t mean you have to play all the time.

“Last season we had Kevin and (Ilkay) Gundogan in that position. Kevin was in top form and Gundo was incredible.

“In that moment sometimes it was difficult to find spaces but I never had a doubt.

“Now Gundo has gone and Kevin unfortunately is injured. We need players to be close to Erling, don’t put all the responsibilities just on the shoulders of Erling to score all the goals.

“That’s why when Phil (Foden) has played there, when Julian plays there, we have the feeling that we create a lot of chances.”

Julian Alvarez is revelling in his partnership with Erling Haaland in Manchester City’s attack.

The Argentinian World Cup winner continued his strong start to the season with two goals as the holders began their Champions League title defence with a comfortable 3-1 win over Red Star Belgrade on Tuesday.

An injury for Kevin De Bruyne has seen Alvarez handed a run of games in support of prolific centre forward Haaland and it is a role he is relishing.

“I am very happy with the goals, to help the team,” the 23-year-old said. “We are doing well, we are winning – which is the most important thing – and playing good games.

“I am trying to adapt and I continue growing in this position, where I am moving freely, to give the team another option and add to the attack.”

Alavarez was the dominant figure in City’s forward line as they threatened to overwhelm Red Star in their opening Group G game at the Etihad Stadium.

Yet despite creating a plethora of chances – with Haaland hitting the bar and goalkeeper Omri Glazer making several saves – City fell behind to an Osman Bukari strike just before half-time.

Alvarez began the fightback with a fine dinked finish after the restart and then put Pep Guardiola’s side ahead when his free-kick was inadvertently punched into the goal by Glazer.

Rodri wrapped up a thoroughly deserved victory with a typically composed finish 17 minutes from time but, again, City could have had several more. Haaland went the closest when he hit the goal frame for a second time.

“We played a good game,” said Alvarez. “It was important to start with a win and three points at home in this difficult competition. We are very happy.

“We had many chances we could not convert but Pep told us to keep doing what we were doing and the goals would come.

“It was the same in the previous game where we were losing and came back, so it was fine. We always try to stay calm, play well in the second half and win.”

Alvarez was not a regular starter last season, despite his starring role in his country’s World Cup triumph, but Guardiola believes he can do an important job in easing the goalscoring burden on Haaland.

Guardiola said: “It’s the same player as last season but being a World Cup winner doesn’t mean you have to play all the time.

“Last season we had Kevin and (Ilkay) Gundogan in that position. Kevin was in top form and Gundo was incredible.

“In that moment sometimes it was difficult to find spaces but I never had a doubt.

“Now Gundo has gone and Kevin unfortunately is injured. We need players to be close to Erling, don’t put all the responsibilities just on the shoulders of Erling to score all the goals.

“That’s why when Phil (Foden) has played there, when Julian plays there, we have the feeling that we create a lot of chances.”

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