The Belgian superstar was subbed off for Mateo Kovacic with over 20 minutes left to play, leading to an infuriated reaction from the Man City ace.

Pep Guardiola raised a few eyebrows during Sunday's thrilling Liverpool vs. Manchester City showdown, with the Spaniard subbing off his superstar Kevin de Bruyne despite needing a goal.

This happened in the 69th minute, nearly 20 minutes after Alexis Mac Allister scored the equalizer through a penalty. The Belgian was taken off for Mateo Kovacic and while the Croatian is regarded as a talented midfielder, he simply does not compare to De Bruyne.

And Kevin did not take this decision well. The 32-year-old was visibly livid at being subbed off, confronting the manager as he headed for the dugout before the cameras later caught Guardiola sitting by his side, talking to his player and attempting to smooth things over.

The game ultimately ended in a 1-1 draw, with the Cityzens fortunate to leave Anfield with a point. Despite this, Guardiola was not phased by De Bruyne's anger when pressed on this issue during the post-match interview.

Additionally, the Spaniard explained the logic behind this move. The match descended into chaos, with both Liverpool and Manchester City launching transitions throughout the clash. Unfortunately, this game state favors the Merseyside giants, so Guardiola brought on Kovacic with the hope of improving his side's ball retention.

"I'm happy to see that!' Guardiola said about De Bruyne's reaction, as per the Daily Mail. "I like it if he's upset, it's good. He's happy now. I knew what we were missing, we missed keeping the ball. After (he went off) we did it better. But, listen, Kevin… what can I say for Kevin… we need him and he is important."

De Bruyne played a key role in Manchester City's one and only goal of the game, setting up John Stones from a corner kick to help his side take the lead. However, neither the Belgian nor Norwegian ace Erling Haaland could muster a second goal as City were forced to accept a point.

The Cityzens were fortunate not to concede a stoppage-time penalty after Jeremy Doku caught Mac Allister on his chest with a high boot. This result now leaves the reigning Premier League champions third in the table, behind current leaders Arsenal and bitter rivals Liverpool.

Next up for De Bruyne and Co. is an interesting FA Cup showdown with Newcastle before hosting Arsenal in a potential title decider. The last time they locked horns with the Gunners, Manchester City lost 1-0 and a second consecutive defeat could be the fatal blow to their title defense.