Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini has praised 18-year old striker, Kelechi Iheanacho, after the Nigerian’s last-gasp winner helped the Citizens retain their 100% win record and place at the top of the Barclays Premier League with a 1-0 win at Selhurst Park.
While closest title-challengers Chelsea stumbled away at Everton with a 3-1 loss, Manchester City finally broke an impressive Palace defence in the 90th minute, and head into Tuesday’s heavyweight bout against Juventus in the Champions League with their perfect league record intact.
Key-men David Silva and Raheem Sterling missed the match against Alan Pardew’s Palace with ankle and hamstring niggles respectively, but could return for the visit of the Italian champions, who finished as runners-up in last year’s competition.
Speaking of his side’s rip-roaring start to the season to the club’s website, Pellegrini said: “It is important to have a gap ahead of the other teams – especially the champions.
“I said before the game it would be a very tough game. It was first versus second and playing Palace at Selhurst Park is always very difficult.
“They are a very good team in a very good moment.”
Now a doubt for the clash against Juve is star-striker, Sergio Aguero, who limped off after 25 minutes following a knee-high swipe from Palace defender Scott Dann.
The challenge clearly incensed the City manager, who tangled with Pardew on the touchline before matters calmed and the two shook hands.
Keeping you updated – I had studies done today, to be completed tomorrow. We’ll have a clearer picture then. Thanks for the support!
— Sergio Kun Aguero (@aguerosergiokun) September 13, 2015
But Pellegrini was far from happy with the challenge, telling the club’s website that Dann should have been dismissed for the tackle.
“Sometimes you must show the red card immediately because you know the intention of the player.”
In response, a sheepish Alan Pardew said: “It’s a shame about the injury to Aguero because we are not a malicious team. We both knew this was going to be a tough game and it was.”
Iheanacho was a symphony of smiles after the game – just his second appearance for the two-time Premier League champions –and his emergence could yet relieve the pressure on Wilfried Bony should Aguero fail to recover ahead of Tuesday.
Speaking about Iheanacho, Pellegrini told the club’s website: “Kelechi is a very young player – he’s just 18 years old. He worked with the rest of the team all week.
“In front of him are Kun and Bony who are very good players, but he is an important striker who still has a lot to improve.”
And Pellegrini had some lasting final words for the youngster before he entered the fray, as the former Real Madrid manager revealed his remit: “I just told him to go on and score!”
The goal will last long in the memory for Iheanacho, who spoke of his delight at pleasing the fans with his debut goal for the club.
“It means so much to me. I’m happy and very grateful and I thank the manager for introducing me.
“The fans went crazy when I scored. We are all happy. It’s not easy. We have great players here but I have to keep working hard.
“We are much stronger this season with quality players. We are going to go all the way.”
Image courtesy of Manchester City via YouTube, with thanks.