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by James Nalton at Eastlands
Pep Guardiola paid tribute to Luis Enrique on Wednesday night, after the Barcelona manager announced that he would leave the Catalan club at the end of the season.
Enrique confirmed that he will leave the Spanish champions to get some rest after three years in charge.
“I am so sad because we are going to miss the perfect trainer for Barcelona, his personality and character,” said the Manchester City manager.
“In his two or three years he played unbelievable football with unbelievable players. For me they are still the best team in the world.”
Guardiola was speaking following his side’s 5-1 dismantling of Huddersfield Town in their FA Cup fifth round replay.
The Spaniard singled out Sergio Aguero for praise and, from the touchline, gave the impression that he was more pleased with his striker’s work off the ball than the two goals he contributed. “It was the best performance I’ve seen from Sergio in many, many things,” he said. “In that form he is unstoppable.”
Huddersfield had given the favourites a fright by going ahead early on. Harry Bunn struck the ball through the legs of a hapless Claudio Bravo. But they were unable to repeat the heroics of the first game as City stepped up a gear.
“We showed our opponent too much respect,” said Terriers manager David Wagner. “As a group we didn’t use this stage to show how strong we usually can be.”
City took control of the game with three first-half goals in eight minutes. Leroy Sane scored the equaliser from Raheem Sterling’s cross, Aguero converted a penalty with aplomb, before Pablo Zabaleta tapped in Aguero’s pass to make it three.
The Argentinian striker bagged his second after getting on the end of a move which was straight out of Guardiola’s textbook. It began with a deft chip into midfield from Bravo, with City passing the ball briskly and intelligently through the centre of the park before Sterling was able to put the ball on a plate for his teammate.
A late strike from substitute Kelechi Iheanacho rubbed salt into Huddersfield’s wounds, but Wagner wasn’t too disheartened.
They face Newcastle tomorrow in what could be their biggest game of the season, and this was the reason they rested several first-teamers for this FA Cup tie.
“This does not make a difference with what we do in the Championship,” added the German, who also encouraged the fans to create their “best atmosphere ever” when they face Rafa Benitez’s table toppers.
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