Sterling hailed as one of world’s best by Kompany

Raheem Sterling 'one of the best wingers in the world', hails Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany

Raheem Sterling 'one of the best wingers in the world', hails Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany

A 3-1 victory over Watford on Saturday kept the Carabao Cup winners on top of the Premier League and after getting all three City goals, Sterling said: 'It's going alright for me and the team.

There was an offside debate over Sterling's first goal and his second was a tap-in but his third highlighted his skill as he weaved into the area, cut back and fired past Ben Foster.

He said: "My impression is that the ball comes from the opponent so it's not offside, because it happened last season in the Champions League and was quite similar - I was out of the Champions League last season for one quite similar to that - [James] Milner passed the ball to Leroy Sané, we would have scored the second goal. To have the ability to unlock defences when they defend with so many bodies is the sign of a top, top, top player".

Despite the controversial opener, Sterling made the game into his own show as he doubled City's lead four minutes later and completed his hat-trick just before the hour mark. As in their two previous games, the score was 0-0 at half-time and City, despite dominating possession, needed to work hard for openings.

Southampton's late turnaround earned them crucial points in the fight to avoid relegation, just as Cardiff City were able to celebrate an equally important 2-0 win over West Ham United thanks to goals from Junior Hoilett and Victor Camarasa.

"But it's a great way to cap the hat-trick off and I am really happy and pleased that the team got a massive three points and that's the most important thing".

City boss Pep Guardiola was more measured in his praise for Sterling, 24, who has now scored 20 goals for club and country this season.

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"No, I didn't hear what (the referee) was saying but at the time I didn't think I was offside, so I was hoping he did have a long think and give us the goal and that's exactly what he's done", Sterling said.

The brace ensured the England striker became the first player to achieve a three-figure tally of goals for the Foxes since Gary Lineker.

Guardiola hailed midfielder Ilkay Gundogan as an "incredible player in all senses" but again expressed concern over the German's contract situation. Yet Sterling's 46th-minute effort was initially ruled out for offside after Sergio Agüero touched the ball towards him.

Arguments continued over whether the decision was the correct one and whether VAR might have helped.

Javi Gracia and Pep Guardiola have called on the game's lawmakers to clarify the offside rule after claiming the introduction of Video Assistant Referees in the Premier League next season will not be enough in itself to end the confusion it frequently sparks. "If it's confused in the rules, that is the problem".

He said: "I don't think VAR is the solution". The VAR I'm sure can help the referees but first of all we have to know the rules.

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