Guardiola insists City played incredible game in defeat at Tottenham
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
The former Barcelona manager was happy with Manchester City’s performance in the 1-0 defeat to Spurs in the Champions League quarter-finals
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola showed a relaxed persona after his team lost 1-0 to Spurs at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the Champions League quarter-final first leg on Tuesday night.
The two key moments of a pulsating encounter went the way of the Lilywhites with Hugo Lloris denying Sergio Aguero from the penalty spot in the 13th minute before Heung-min Son struck a fine winner for the hosts with 78 minutes played.
It leaves City with plenty to do ahead of the second leg at the Etihad on Wednesday, April 17, but the manager of the Premier League champions is not worried.
Guardiola said: “We played an incredible game. The Champions League games are so serious and we conceded absolutely few chances. We created chances, more than the penalty, and we controlled the game.
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“We didn’t let them run a lot and okay the result is not the best, but not the worst. In this competition if you want to go through to the latter stages, you make this kind of comeback to try and go through and if not, we are not able to go through.
“I don’t have the feeling we played bad if you see the control we had in the first half and especially the second half in the way we played. The result is not good, but at the same time last season was much worst (3-0 first leg defeat at Liverpool).”
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While Guardiola has won the Champions League twice and is a managerial genius, few who watched the clash in London would agree with his notion City played an ‘incredible game.’
The quadruple-chasing side started okay at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but soon it was Mauricio Pochettino’s team who began to pull the punches.
Video Assistant Referee (VAR) gave the visitors a penalty, but Lloris stopped Aguero from opening the scoring and the Lilywhites continued to pose a threat and test the away side with their intense pressing.
Harry Kane was denied by Ederson while Danny Rose called the City goalkeeper into action too, but it remained goalless at the break.
Raheem Sterling, who won the first-half penalty, forced Lloris into a save early after the restart, but it was one of few chances for Guardiola’s men.
After Kane’s withdrawal through injury close to the hour mark, the Citizens started to get on top, but then Son struck a decisive blow in the 78th minute after a lovely ball by Christian Eriksen – following good play by Lucas Moura and Dele Alli.
Tottenham managed to hold on after taking the lead to delight the vast majority of the 60,044 crowd at the new venue.
But Guardiola pointed out: “How many chances did Tottenham create in the second half? Sometimes when you go a lot, you lose the ball and after they kill you with the counter-attacks, so you have to take a balance in the way they play.
“When they lose the ball, they have (Moussa) Sissoko, they have Son, they have Lucas Moura and Harry Kane – players after one or two passes who can switch play and then they kill you.
“That is why sometimes you have to control this aspect and especially in the first leg. In the second half we controlled it absolutely and we didn’t arrive with big, big chances, but what do you expect in the Champions League?
“Sometimes 1-0 is better than 0-0 because you know exactly what you have to do. With 0-0 it can sometimes feel like do you attack or defend?
“We have to score and of course in football people will analyse the result and it will not be a good perspective for us, but maybe when I review the game I will say the game was not good, but right now – half an hour after – I don’t have that feeling.
“We controlled them, but at the end, the quality of the situation to make a difference will maybe happen next week.”