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Pep Guardiola hailed a mature performance from Manchester City as they claimed a hard-fought 1-0 win over Newcastle on Saturday.
Julian Alvarez scored the only goal of a tight Premier League encounter at the Etihad Stadium in which the treble winners impressively stifled any threat from the visitors.
Newcastle had travelled in buoyant mood after their opening-day 5-1 defeat of Aston Villa last week, while City may have had reason to feel lethargic after their draining Super Cup outing against Sevilla in Athens on Wednesday.
Yet City played with a confidence and determination that overcame any fatigue and Guardiola, who made just two changes to his side and did not make any substitutions, was highly impressed.
Guardiola said: “This is the second game of the season but it is proof, the reason why we won a lot. The mindset and mentality of this group of players amazes me every time, surprises me every time.
“Against that team and the conditions we arrived, with a lot of injuries and no rest – they played really well. How they defended and how they ran and the commitment of everyone was absolutely amazing.
“We played really good, we deserved to win. We could have scored more goals.
“The difference of the winning teams is the mentality. This group of players, for many years, they have done it and today again.
“I know we are not in the best condition and have five or six important players out but it is what it is. This is the challenge. The Premier League decided to play today. OK, we accept the challenge.”
At one point during the game, Guardiola was spoken to by a fan who apparently had urged him to make a tactical change.
“He said to me ‘make a sub’,” The Spaniard said. “I said ‘come sit here and do it!’ I didn’t know which one (to make). It was a joke.
“The game was in a good tempo, a good rhythm. I didn’t see the players too tired. It wasn’t easy to make the changes so I didn’t do it.”
Newcastle boss Eddie Howe was frustrated with the result but was positive enough about the performance, which he feels his side can build upon.
He said: “I think on tonight’s evidence there is stuff to improve. We’re a little bit disappointed overall because we know we can be better, but you have to be at your very best to get something here.
“I thought there were some good bits. We had moments we could hurt them but didn’t have our quality. The second half was much better.
“I was frustrated we didn’t create more. The last pass was missing and we had a couple of shots from range but nothing glaring and that’s the frustration.”
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