Pep Guardiola has admitted Manchester City are up against one of the best teams of all time as they battle Liverpool for the Premier League title.
City regained top spot in a compelling title race with a hard-earned 3-0 victory over Brighton at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.
The result, secured with three second-half goals after an anxious first period, was met with much relief after Liverpool had turned up the heat with a 4-0 thrashing of Manchester United the previous night.
Yet with six games remaining, the champions’ lead is just one point and manager Guardiola knows there is little margin for error.
The Spaniard said: “Liverpool are one of the best sides in the whole of football history, we are facing one of the best teams ever.
“They have everything, that’s why being there with them means a lot. The players know it. They’ve faced them and they know.
“It’s a pity that in the game we faced them, when we were better than them and deserved to win, that unfortunately we could not do it.
“Now we don’t have any chance to drop anything but we have been in this position (before) and played with this pressure.
“We’ve played against ourselves, our actions, our nerves. I’m pretty sure the players will make the step because it is close.”
Nerves were certainly apparent, in the crowd at least, on Wednesday as the Seagulls frustrated City throughout the first half.
It took two deflected strikes to change the course of the game soon after the break. The first came from Riyad Mahrez after a powerful run from deep by the impressive Kevin De Bruyne, with Phil Foden adding the second from distance following a corner.
Bernardo Silva put the result beyond any doubt late on after another fine touch by De Bruyne.
Mahrez, City’s top scorer this term with 23 goals, said: “Sometimes you have to go through games where it is difficult to score. We cannot always be winning 2-0 or 3-0 at half-time.
“We had to be patient but we kept focus. We didn’t doubt one minute about scoring goals and that is good. We are very happy with the win.”
Brighton had gone into the game with confidence after winning at Arsenal and Tottenham in their last two games but City proved a step up from that level.
Midfielder Pascal Gross told Albion TV: “City obviously are, absolutely, a top team. In every position they are really good and they don’t make many mistakes.
“The chances you get you need to be clinical. You need to use your chances. If you don’t do that it will always be tough.
“The first goal is always important. They are really good when they are leading, keeping the ball. That is their strength. We had done well until then.”
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