Raheem Sterling delighted in sending a message to his World Cup critics after launching Manchester City’s title defence with his 50th Premier League goal.
Pep Guardiola’s side saw off Arsenal 2-0 on the opening weekend at Emirates Stadium and Sterling dazzled either side of an excellent 14th-minute finish.
It marked a contrast to the 23-year-old’s performances during England’s run at Russia 2018, where a string of intelligent and industrious attacking displays were stained by wayward finishing.
As such, Sterling polarised opinion in some quarters and he was quick to make his point to the naysayers after breezing inside Hector Bellerin and Shkodran Mustafi to score – wheeling away with a hand cupped to his ear.
‘It’s the first game of the season, you want to start well and I’m happy to contribute,’ he told Sky Sports.
‘There’s been a lot of talking so I got a little celebration in there.
‘It’s just one of those things. I play in an attacking position, it’s what I get judged on [scoring goals] and that’s all.’
Sterling was booked for a rash early challenge on Arsenal debutant Matteo Guendouzi and conceded referee Michael Oliver could have viewed the tackle in a harsher light.
‘I’ve overrun the ball a little bit. I didn’t intentionally go in to make a bad challenge,” he added. “It could have gone the other way.’
Bernardo Silva emphatically crashed City’s second into the top corner in the 64th minute after his team came through some nervy moments early in the second half.
‘I think especially to start the Premier League against such a strong team here at Emirates Stadium and start well is important,’ Silva said.
‘We are happy. It was a fantastic win for us. Now we have to keep going.
‘We wanted to be professional, we wanted to make it serious like last season. We are very happy. We scored twice, didn’t concede and were compact.
‘We knew we had to go and get the second because they started the second half very strong.’