A dispirited Pep Guardiola has summed up the heart-wrenching Champions League semi-final loss to Real Madrid by admitting that the manner of his side’s 6-5 aggregate defeat was ‘tough’ to accept.
City appeared to be heading to a second successive final when Riyad Mahrez put them two goals ahead in the tie with 17 minutes left, but Rodrygo had other thoughts when he struck twice in the 90th and 91st minutes to force extra time.
And a 94th-minute penalty from Karim Benzema made sure the English side were left to rue their errors and kept Real Madrid’s hopes of a 14th Champions League trophy alive.
In a post-match interview, the 51-year-old Spaniard reflected on the loss admitting it hurt not to secure passage to the grand stage of the competition
“It is tough for us. We cannot deny it. We were so close to arriving in the Champions League final,” Guardiola admitted.
“We didn’t play much good in the first half. We didn’t find our game, but it’s normal in this competition. The second half was much better.
Speaking on his side’s approach to the game, Guardiola stated that his front-men were wasteful in front of goal.
“After the goal we controlled it. We found the game, we arrived at the byline. Jack (Grealish) helped us to control the game and unfortunately, he could not finish when we were close.
“Before the first goal [for Madrid] we had two chances, especially one so clear with Jack.
“In that moment we didn’t have the feeling we were in trouble for the way they attack. It didn’t happen. They score a goal at the end. They have done it many times in their history.
“They put a lot of players in the box. Four strikers plus Militao and they find the goals.
“I have had defeats in the Champions League. I have had tough defeats with Barcelona against Chelsea when both games were exceptional and we could not reach the final.”