Stefan Ortega’s heroics for Manchester City against Chelsea were unsurprising, according to Pep Guardiola, who also thanked the team for helping him sign a contract.
Ortega joined on a free transfer in the summer to serve as Ederson’s backup in goal, but he has had to patiently await his opportunities.
He made his Champions League debut at Dortmund during the draw, played well against Sevilla in the final group match, but it was his string of outstanding saves against Chelsea that really impressed City fans.
He stopped a close-range deflected shot, stopped Lewis Hall in one-on-one, and blocked a potential Christian Pulisic shot in the first half.
After City went 2-0 ahead, Ortega produced another big save to keep City in control, and later tipped the ball around the post to deny another certain goal.
And after the game, Guardiola hailed his goalkeeper, saying Ortega has been an ‘exceptional’ addition to City’s squad this season.
“It’s not the first game, the game in Dortmund was exceptional. The game against Sevilla was exceptional,” Guardiola said.
“We saw him every day and I think the club made a great signing with him. He’s an exceptional goalkeeper in all departments, in the goal, with the feet, and in the end Chelsea didn’t score a goal because he saved it.
“It’s good for Eddy too. To maintain the levels is so important. Stefan is an exceptional keeper.”
Guardiola delighted with Grealish
Grealish was City’s standout player, orchestrating the Premier League champion’s attacks in the absence of Kevin de Bruyne and Phil Foden.
“We spoke many times with him, the first intention is go to score a goal,” Guardiola told reporters. “He’s not a real threat for the back four because he’s going to pass the ball, but today his body language is ‘I’m going to score a goal’. Then after, shoot or pass.
“Today, there were three or four times when he did it, and this is what we wanted. Today he didn’t score but with the chances he will do it. He was exceptional again, Jack is playing really, really good.”
Midfielder Kalvin Phillips, who hopes to make England’s squad for the World Cup in Qatar, made his return from shoulder surgery and Guardiola was pleased with his impact.
“Kalvin had a good 40 minutes. He didn’t play for a long time, and he played with incredible personality,” Guardiola said.