The Senegal star curiously found himself in the spotlight during the City boss’ post-match comments at the Etihad Stadium
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola sought to ramp up the tension ahead of a potentially decisive Premier League clash next weekend by calling out Liverpool star Sadio Mane for diving.
Both City and Liverpool ground out narrow victories on Saturday to stay clear of the chasing pack in second and first place respectively.
Pep’s men came back from behind to see off Southampton, but their 2-1 victory was positively comfortable compared to events at Villa Park.
Liverpool trailed until the 87th minute to Aston Villa before goals from Neil Robertson and Mane salvaged victory in the dying seconds.
November 10 sees City travel to Anfield, and it has been the Senegal international to whom Pep has been apparently paying special attention.
“Sometimes [Mane] has been diving, sometimes he has this talent to score incredible goals in the last minute. He’s a talent,” the ex-Barca and Bayern Munich coach told Sky Sports .
“Another close Liverpool win? If it’s one time, two times, ‘we were lucky, we were lucky’, but it happened in the last two seasons many, many times – they have a special character to do that.
“We look at ourselves, we know which team we face, I think they have won 10 and drawn one… Next week we go to Anfield to try to play them.”
Turning back to his own team, Pep insisted that the match was more comfortable than the rather tight scoreline suggested.
“We played incredible from the first minute until the end. We created an incredible amount of chances. We were pressured but we did it,” he added.
“We kept our cool and we were patient. We know we will always get chances, it was important that we stayed calm ahead.
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“I told them at half-time to keep going for it, to keep attacking. It has been the only way. There was no space, it was almost impossible but we did it and that has been why I am delighted.”
Both City, who currently trail their rivals by six points in the title race, and the Reds will be back in action midweek prior to their Anfield showdown.
Liverpool’s Champions League defence continues in Group E at home to Genk, while Pep’s charges seek to continue their 100 per cent record in Group C away to Atalanta in Bergamo.