Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola played down a post-match pitch invasion that will be viewed dimly by the FA after his team celebrated their Premier League title with an emphatic 5-0 victory over struggling Swansea.
The final whistle saw hundreds of supporters storm onto the pitch, despite the best efforts of club security and appeals over the loudspeakers at the Etihad Stadium.
There was also at least one flare let off among the fans as security moved hurriedly to ensure players could leave the field safely, with City captain Vincent Kompany and French international Benjamin Mendy the last players to leave for the safety of the dressing rooms.
There was no threat involved in the celebrations and Mendy — who had made his first appearance for seven months as a substitute — could even be seen jumping up and down and joining in with the boisterous City fans.
The FA’s strict guidelines, however, will see them investigate the scenes and there are recent precedents for action, with third-tier Wigan having recently been charged for allowing their supporters to “encroach” on the pitch following their famous win over Guardiola’s side in the FA Cup in February.
Guardiola, however, was relaxed about the prospect.
“No problem,” he said. “Football is an emotional game. I understand you have to be careful, but when they feel they want to share that they are happy, it is better they stay where they should stay, but I’m not going to tell them don’t do that.
“If they are happy I like to be close with the team. They show how happy they are and that is the most beautiful thing. The fans here were so happy.”
The City manager did joke that he would like to see his supporters “save the grass” with his side having two more home games, and two on the road, before they complete a record-breaking campaign.
The marks for most wins, most goals, most points, best goal difference and the biggest winning points margin at the top of the table are all well within his team’s reach after this five-goal demolition of Swansea.
– De Bruyne rocket –
After the pre-match festivities and a guard of honour from the visiting players, City took just 11 minutes to open the scoring as David Silva juggled a Raheem Sterling pass and volleyed home.
Sterling himself swept home from an even better move five minutes later before Kevin De Bruyne claimed the goal of the game with a 25-yard strike on 53 minutes.
De Bruyne is expected to just be pipped to the award for Players’ Player of the Year by Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, who has scored a record-equalling 31 Premier League goals for a single season, but Guardiola hailed the Belgian as the best player in the league in his opinion.
“From my point of view when you are analysing 10 months, there is no player better than him,” said Guardiola.
“Maybe there are numbers better but for me he was the best. But it is my opinion, the opinions of the players could be different. But in the end, in summer time he will be at home being champion.”
Bernardo Silva reacted quickly to net after Gabriel Jesus’s 63rd-minute penalty was saved by Lukasz Fabianski and Jesus completed the rout, heading in Yaya Toure’s late chip.
The rout means that six City players have now scored double figures for the season, with David Silva the latest to join that club.
“That is the reason why when one team just depends on one or two players to score goals you cannot achieve what we achieve,” added Guardiola.
“It is important, to get these numbers you have to be in a good state in all departments. We are the first team in scoring goals, we concede the least, chances we create we are the first, (fewest) chances we concede we are the first.
“The stats are good and that is why we won the league five games before the end.”