Bernardo Silva revealed a personal competition between himself and Manchester City team-mate Ruben Dias helped to inspire his opening goal in Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Borussia Monchengladbach.
Silva headed City into a 29th-minute lead in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie in Budapest before nodding down for Gabriel Jesus to score midway through the second half.
It was the diminutive playmaker’s 35th goal for City in all competitions and, perhaps a little surprisingly, his third with his head.
Speaking to BT Sport after the game, Silva explained he and Portugal team-mate Ruben Dias – a centre-back certainly more adept in the air but yet to open his account for City – are competing to see who can score the most headers this season.
“Usually I’m not [good at scoring headers]. I try to practice a lot – especially now with Ruben,” he said.
“We make a little competition to see who scores the most goals with the head.
“I think I was lucky that Joao [Cancelo] gave me a great ball and, yes, I’m happy to have scored and helped the team.”
3 – Bernardo Silva’s opener was his 35th goal for Manchester City in all competitions, but only his third with a headed finish. Ghosted. pic.twitter.com/JhKlYbw2iH
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 24, 2021
Speaking at a news conference after the game, boss Pep Guardiola said Silva’s work on his heading on the training ground – irrespective of whether it is mainly for bragging rights – had not gone unnoticed.
“He is really good at headers, he is really good! I saw in the training sessions,” he said.
“When you make an action for a header you have to use the body, not just the head. He used his neck perfectly. He was strong, the goal was fantastic.
“Attacking midfielders have to arrive in the box and Bernardo and Gundo [Ilkay Gundogan] have this quality.”
Another of Silva’s international team-mates, Joao Cancelo, was named man of the match after he supplied a sumptuous cross for the opener and the centre that led to Jesus’ close-range effort.
Involved in both first-leg goals, João Cancelo takes the prize after another impressive Manchester City display
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) February 24, 2021
“He’s an amazing player. I’ve played with him seven years at Benfica. We’re from the same generation,” Silva added, with Dias also having also come through the ranks with the Lisbon giants.
“I know him very well, so the connection is good. He knows my timing, I know how good he is on these kind of balls.
“It was a very good goal because of his passing qualities. Overall, he’s been doing a great season and I’m very happy for him.”