'I admire him' – Guardiola heaps praise on Sterling after tough week

Raheem Sterling Manchester City Everton 151218
The England international scored with his first touch against Everton and the City coach has praised his attitude.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola expressed his admiration for Raheem Sterling after the England forward ended the week in which he was the subject of alleged racist abuse by Chelsea supporters by scoring with his first touch against Everton.

Sterling came on as a second-half substitute moments after Dominic Calvert-Lewin netted to put Everton back in the game at 2-1 and made an immediate impact, heading Fernandinho's cross into the net from close range to restore City's two-goal advantage.

Sterling spent the week leading up to the game in the headlines following an incident in City's 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge, and Guardiola said the 24-year-old has the support of everyone at the Etihad Stadium.

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"I think Raheem Sterling has handled the last few years in terms of situations and rumours, about him or his family or the colour of his skin, very calmly," Guardiola told reporters.

"I admire him and appreciate that it’s not easy for him.

"He's loved by all staff and in the locker room."

Gabriel Jesus scored his first Premier League goals since August to give City the lead and Guardiola said the Brazilian reaped the rewards for his intelligent positional play.

Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne were named among the substitutes, the latter coming on in the second half to make his return to first team action after a knee injury, and Guardiola underlined the importance of players coming back to fitness.

"We need everyone," said the Spaniard. "Danilo and Sergio Aguero are coming back for other games - next Tuesday, there is another one [against Leicester City in the League Cup].

"We need all the players. Sterling deserved to play because of [his performance against] Hoffenheim. But of course, we can improve and do better.

"Gabriel Jesus is so important. Strikers need to score goals. The difference today was that he scored as he was in better positions.

"It's so good for him and our team. His performance was so valuable."