MANCHESTER: Pep Guardiola has accused Liverpool star Sadio Mane of diving as the Manchester City boss lit the fuse on next weekend's explosive clash between the Premier League title rivals.
Mane scored Liverpool's winner in the fourth minute of stoppage-time as the leaders scored twice in the final moments to escape with a 2-1 victory at Aston Villa on Saturday.
But the Senegal winger had been booked for simulation in the first half at Villa Park and that didn't escape Guardiola's attention.
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Asked about Liverpool's comeback, Guardiola, speaking after City came from behind to beat Southampton 2-1, told BBC Sport: "It has happened many times, what Liverpool have done, in the last few years, it's because (Mane) is a special talent.
"Sometimes he's diving, sometimes he has this talent to score incredible goals in the last minute. He's a talent."
Liverpool remain six points clear of City ahead of their crucial showdown at Anfield on Sunday and Guardiola knows the European champions will be tough to catch given their relentless drive.
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"If it's one time, two times, 'we were lucky, we were lucky', but it happened in the last two seasons many, many times. They have a special character to do that," Guardiola said.
"We look at ourselves, we know which team we face, I think they have won 10 and drawn one. Next week we go to Anfield to try to play them."