Pep Guardiola admitted Manchester City shot themselves in the foot once more in the Champions League after crashing out in the quarterfinals for the third straight season with a shock 3-1 defeat to Lyon in Lisbon.
A familiar cocktail of defensive errors, missed chances and VAR controversy did for Guardiola’s side with the Catalan coach also under fire for another surprise team selection in the knockout stages.
Guardiola is yet to get beyond the last 8 in his 4 years in charge of City as the English side’s wait to be crowned champions of Europe continues despite the billions invested by the club’s Abu Dhabi owners.
“One day we’ll break this gap to the quarterfinals,” said Guardiola.
“You have to be perfect in these competitions in one game and we weren’t.”
City looked disjointed as Guardiola started with an unfamiliar 3-5-2 formation and trailed at half-time to Maxwel Cornet’s strike.
Their pressure in the second half finally told when Kevin De Bruyne leveled 21 minutes from time.
However, Moussa Dembele’s strike to restore the French side’s lead was allowed to stand despite a VAR check for a trip on Aymeric Laporte.
Raheem Sterling then incredibly fired over with the goal gaping to bring City back on level terms and less than 60 seconds later an error from goalkeeper Ederson allowed Dembele to tap home and seal Lyon a semifinal meeting with Guardiola’s old club Bayern Munich.
“This competition is that situation,” Guardiola added of Sterling’s miss.
“You have to equalize and go to extra-time and after we concede the third goal. We create more chances, so we did everything but unfortunately we are out again.”
Neither Guardiola nor De Bruyne wished to dwell on the VAR call for Lyon’s second after the dramatic role it played in denying City a stoppage time winner in last season’s quarterfinal against Tottenham.
“I’ve no idea, I’ve not seen it back so whatever they decide, they decide. I’m not going to blame that, I think we should have done better,” De Bruyne told BT Sport.
“Different year, same stuff. We need to learn, it’s not good enough.”
Outsiders once again
Lyon’s victory against much-fancied City comes after they ousted Italian champions Juventus on away goals in the previous round. But they will now have to see off an ominous Bayern team on Wednesday if they are to make the final.
“We know who we are coming up against next,” said Garcia.
“We eliminated a Juventus side who were one of the contenders to win the Champions League, and a Manchester City side who were contenders to win the Champions League.
“Bayern will be exactly the same, but on the basis of what the players have shown logically we can still hope to get through another round and that is what we are going to prepare to try to do.”
Lyon finished 7th in the curtailed French season, a desperately poor showing from France’s second-richest club meaning they have to now win the Champions League just to qualify for Europe again in the new campaign.
They have appeared in continental competition in each of the last 23 seasons, but they have never gone beyond the semifinals of the Champions League.
That has happened just once before, when they lost to Bayern in the last 4 in 2010.
“Confidence is growing within the squad, but we will be outsiders and once again it will need an exploit from us to go through,” said Garcia.
“When you are in the last 4 we can say that we deserve to be there and if we get to the final we really will deserve it.”
The former Lille, Roma and Marseille coach was appointed last October and has never won over Lyon supporters, but this result can only have improved his standing.
“I do this job to experience these moments but they are very rare in a career,” he said.
“Tonight is magnificent but it doesn’t give us anything, there is no title or place in Europe. Now we need to recuperate, savour this and let it sink in.” – Rappler.com