Pep Guardiola claimed Manchester City had beaten one of the best sides he had ever seen after their hard-fought 2-1 Champions League win over Napoli.
Early goals from Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus set up the win over the Serie A leaders at the Etihad Stadium, City’s third successive triumph in Group F.
Guardiola had described Napoli as one of the three best footballing sides in Europe ahead of the game and, with that in mind, he was in no doubt of the size of his team’s achievement.
Guardiola said: “They are one of the best teams I have ever faced as a professional, as a player, as a trainer. That is why I am so proud with what we have done.
“You cannot beat Napoli – it is impossible to beat them, if you do make a good performance and we did it. That is why I am so happy. I am pretty sure they are one of the best teams in Europe in this moment.”
Sterling and Jesus struck inside the first 13 minutes and City threatened more in a devastating opening half-hour. Kevin De Bruyne hit the bar and Jesus had a shot blocked on the line.
But Napoli then began to settle. Ederson saved a penalty from Dries Mertens as the visitors finished the first half strongly and they pulled one back when Amadou Diawara converted their second spot-kick of the game.
City did have further opportunities but were ultimately relieved to hang on.
Speaking at his post-match press conference, Guardiola said: “I didn’t expect to control for 90 minutes because Napoli are an exceptional team. We made a good first half, for 30-35 mintues. We scored the two goals, we started really good, we could have made a third or a fourth.
“After that when we were a bit tired we were not able to finish our counter-attacks. We arrived late for our pressing and they have a big ability to make short passes inside and outside.”
City’s victory came without striker Sergio Aguero, who was again an unused substitute after making a quick recovery from a broken rib. Guardiola said he would feature “very soon”.