After a derby win over United in the EFL Cup semi-finals, Pep Guardiola said John Stones had proved he belonged to Manchester City.
Stones scored his first City goal since November 2017 and on Wednesday, Fernandinho sealed a 2-0 victory at Old Trafford as the three-time defending champions booked a place against Tottenham in the final. This season, the City defender, who was pleased to see the flag lifted after the ball bounced off him and into his net during the semi-final, was in good shape, and his six possessions earned against United were the same best for his side.
City manager Guardiola was full of praise for Stones, who appeared at the club on the outside before starting to impress.
“He came back and he made another outstanding performance – but the most important thing is he can do something he hasn’t been able to do – play four, five, six games in a row. This is important,” he said at a news conference.
Marcus Rashford, who is dangerous and smart, had to deal with the accuracy of his passes to Joao [Cancelo] was excellent. All the players, our captain Fernandinho, what a success again. He read the game extremely well, he moved the team.
All of the players—[Ilkay] Gundogan, Raheem [Sterling], Phil [Foden]…– The entire squad.
All credit [to Stones] was added by Guardiola. Football is a long career, it’s up and down, poor moments sometimes. He was out longer than we planned, but he came back and he belongs here entirely.
We can support him, but it’s a compliment to him when someone plays like this. I hope he will be able to continue this way.”