Guardiola heaps praise on Sterling

Pep Guardiola singled out the performance of Raheem Sterling as Manchester City defeated Sunderland 2-1 in the club's opening game of the new season.

City got off to the perfect start at the Etihad Stadium as Sergio Aguero buried a fourth-minute penalty won by Stirling, before claiming all three points late in the tie as substitute Paddy McNair inadvertently headed into his own net – this after Jermain Defoe had scored a 71st minute equaliser.

There were a number of talking points from the tie with Joe Hart dropped for Willy Caballero while Yaya Toure, Eliaquim Mangala and Samir Nasri were left out of the squad altogether.

Despite coming close to dropping points, a pragmatic Guardiola explained that the first game in any season is always tricky, and expects his side to improve with more game time together.

He told the club's official website: "He [Sterling] played amazing, but he also played well against Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal, St Johnstone.

"We need people who stay wide, go to the byline or go inside. That is so important. He's a fighter. Of course, we want more of him, but I'm very happy, he's a very nice guy. We want to help him to see the real Sterling."

He added: "I'm very pleased about the performance we achieved. In the first 10-15 minutes we played good. The second half until the goal from Defoe we played really, really well, we made good build ups, with John, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Gael and Sagna.

"Maybe we should attack quicker but that is normal in the moment we are. We have to learn. I saw many good things about the spirit of the team. We have to build something from that."

On his team selected, Guardiola added: "Yaya trained really, really good, Samir is training amazing, so I'm really impressed by his quality. Mangala, you know how professional he is. At the end, I have a squad and I have to decide what I see. I have to create the team spirit. Today I chose this lineup but that doesn't mean they won't play in the future.

"Today I decided the team because of many, many reasons. I wanted aggression without the ball, to create a good build up."