Manchester City lost midfielder Ilkay Gundogan to a serious knee injury in a 2-0 win over Watford in the English Premier League on Wednesday that brought mixed emotions for manager Pep Guardiola.
Gundogan appeared to be in tears as he was helped off the field late in the first half, and Guardiola said after the match that the Germany international would be out for a “long time” with damaged ligaments.
The injury marred a welcome victory after goals by Pablo Zabaleta and David Silva ensured City bounced back from consecutive losses, to Chelsea and Leicester. The defeats had sparked criticism by many pundits of Guardiola’s methods and philosophy, with his team slipping off the pace in the title race.
With his defense also under scrutiny, Guardiola will be happy with the clean sheet – only City’s third in the league this season – but it needed Silva’s 86th-minute goal to settle the late nerves as Watford sought an equalizer.
Zabaleta smashed in Kevin De Bruyne’s cross to put City ahead in the 33rd minute before Ilkay Gundigan seemed to twist his knee in a tackle. Despite a determined effort, he was unable to run off the knock and came off in the 44th minute.
“I’m so sad,” Guardiola said, “as it looks like we’ll be without him for a long time.”
Gundogan missed the start of the season with a dislocated kneecap sustained while playing for Borussia Dortmund at the end of last season. That caused him to miss the European Championship in France.
City is expected to give an update on Gundogan’s injury on Thursday.
Odion Ighalo was given a rare start as Watford manager Walter Mazzarri rotated his squad, and the striker missed a great chance just before Silva exchanged passes with Raheem Sterling to score his first league goal since January.
City stayed in fourth place, seven points behind Chelsea.