Pep Guardiola described Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis as exceptional human beings after they helped Manchester City reach the EFL Cup fourth round.
Teenagers Garcia and Harwood-Bellis contributed to City’s clean sheet in a 3-0 win at Championship club Preston North End on Tuesday, with Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus and a Ryan Ledson own goal sealing a comfortable victory.
City’s defensive injury crisis, with Aymeric Laporte and John Stones sidelined, has left Nicolas Otamendi as their only senior centre-back after the departure of club captain Vincent Kompany.
Yet Garcia and senior debutant Harwood-Bellis impressed enough against Alex Neil’s side to suggest they can be options for City as they seek to defend all three of their domestic trophies.
“We made a good solid performance against a team third in the Championship, we played really good,” Guardiola said to Sky Sports.
“I am pleased a lot with Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis at the back, they helped us a lot.
“They combined, they suit each other perfectly and they have played in the academy every weekend.
“They are exceptional human beings with a good mentality. I am very pleased.”
A dream come true for @bellis_taylor
— Manchester City (@ManCity) September 24, 2019
Preston held firm for 19 minutes, with City having put five past Watford in the Premier League by the same stage at the weekend.
“We didn’t disappoint,” said North End boss Neil. “For the first 20 minutes we started brightly on the front foot. We went chasing the ball for the first goal. They are good-quality goals for them.
“The goals they scored were stuff we talked about. But when you play against that quality with their speed, it’s one thing to talk about stopping them. It’s another thing to do it. We can’t get too hard on ourselves.
“Man City were the better team. Their forward line is scary for any Premier League team. We need to take the positives of what we did well and take them onto Saturday.”
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