Pep Guardiola’s three-time defending English Premier League champions and last season’s continental treble-winning Manchester City have been without their captain Kevin De Bruyne during the first half of the current season, but the team still managed to put on consistent and quality performances thus far. Just yesterday, the Cityzens finally welcomed their skipper Kevin De Bruyne back to their squad, after the 32-year-old Belgium midfielder came onto the pitch as a substitute in City’s FA Cup Third Round encounter against Huddersfield Town, leading last year’s winners to a 5-0 victory in this cup tie.
City Kickstarted Their Title Defence Campaign with a Thumping Victory
Manchester City won their seventh FA Cup last season when ex-captain İlkay Gündoğan scored a brace (Both assisted by Kevin De Bruyne) for them to beat Manchester United 2-1 in the finale. They opened this season’s campaign with only four players in their first 11 that also started in that 2022/2023 FA Cup Final against the Red Devils, namely Stefan Ortega, Manuel Akanji, Rúben Dias and Jack Grealish.
The Cityzens ended the opening 45 minutes of this FA Cup Third Round fixture with a couple of goals in quick succession, courtesy of Phil Foden and 2022 FIFA World Cup-winning forward Julián Álvarez. The England international brought his season tally in 2023/2024 to double digits when he picked up a ricocheted ball and slotted a shot to the far post inside the penalty box. Foden was again involved in another City goal, this time setting up Matheus Nunes, who then crossed the ball to the close range. The delivery was missed by Rico Lewis, but Álvarez was able to squeeze the ball past the opposing goalkeeper to complete that incredible team play.
Kevin De Bruyne a 57th-Minute Sub for Manchester City
Enjoying a two-goal advantage, Guardiola decided to give his club captain Kevin De Bruyne his return to competitive matches, replacing the scorer of City’s second goal Álvarez with the Belgium three minutes shy of the hour mark. Seconds after Kevin De Bruyne’s introduction to the game, City tripled their lead via an own goal by Ben Jackson. The young England left-back just could not get out of the way when Oscar Bobb crossed the ball first time and it deflected off his body to end in the back of the net for City’s third of the evening.
Guardiola’s side remained hungry despite their superior advantage of 3-0, and soon found the fourth goal. Five players were involved in a Manchester City short corner, including Bobb, Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Gómez, Mateo Kovačić and Foden, with the English star completing his brace in the game on a superb fashion.
Upped with a 4-0 cushion, the perfect moment came for Kevin De Bruyne to announce his much awaited return to the game from his severe hamstring problems. The Belgium national team captain led an attack for the home side, followed by a pass to Bobb, who then returned to his club skipper with a through ball. Kevin De Bruyne then dinked an inch-perfect cross to the far post for Jérémy Doku to hit home a wonderful half-volley, sealing a 5-0 humiliation against Huddersfield Town from the EFL Championship.
— City Report (@cityreport_) January 7, 2024
Pep Delighted with Kevin De Bruyne’s Return
Guardiola could not be any happier with the return of his club captain Kevin De Bruyne in this crucial period of the current season. “He played really good minutes. We thought it was better to play the second half than from the beginning when the game was tighter. It was so difficult to find space. They defended so so deep and were really well organised, compact. It was really good and now, as I said before, he needs to accumulate training sessions and more training sessions, more than games. Still he is not ready for 90 minutes,” said the Spaniard on the Belgium midfielder.
The 52-year-old head coach of the Cityzens also added: “Kevin helps to win games and there are few (Like him) in the world. We can play good football-wise but Kevin, (Erling) Haaland, Phil (Foden), Julián (Álvarez) – these guys win games. That’s why it’s so important to have him back. Kevin is exceptional, he is unique. He was a long time out with surgery. His first minutes, the quality of the assist for the Jérémy (Doku) goal – it’s really good to have him back.”
Guardiola’s and Kevin De Bruyne’s Manchester City will be travelling to St. James’ Park and face Newcastle United for their 20th English Premier League game this season next; The Magpies recently emerged victorious versus Sunderland in the Tyne–Wear derby in their own FA Cup Third Round clash, winning the game comfortably with a 3-0 score line. Check out AsiaSport.com if you wish to catch the Premier League encounter between Newcastle United and Manchester City on live streams this coming Saturday.