Man City boss Pep Guardiola shares theory behind last-gasp meltdown vs Real Madrid

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Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola claims his players ‘felt the pressure’ at the Bernabeu as Real Madrid staged a daring late comeback to book their spot in the Champions League final. The Sky Blues looked to be in the drivers’ seat for the vast majority of the tie, but Rodrygo’s last-gasp double sent the clash to extra-time when Karim Benzema struck to hand City yet more European heartbreak. 

City finished off the first leg with a 4-3 lead but were already rueing missed chances that could have landed them with an even healthier buffer for their Bernabeu showdown. Nevertheless, a second-half strike from Riyad Mahrez looked to have sealed their spot in the Champions League final, but Los Blancos had other ideas. 

In front of a raucous crowd, substitute Rodrygo stunningly notched two last-gasp goals in quick succession before Benzema’s decisive penalty. The home crowd were credited for playing a huge part in City’s late capitulation, and Guardiola pointed out after the game that it was impossible for his players not to feel the pressure of the occasion. 

“We were close,” a dejected Guardiola told BT Sport. “We were close but at the end we could not reach the final. It’s simple, the first half we didn’t have game, we were not good enough but we didn’t suffer much – when we scored we were better.

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Indeed, the final four matches Guardiola refers to are all hugely important as they hold a slender one-point lead over Liverpool in the Premier League table. The Reds, meanwhile, will feel as though their chances of pulling off a staggering Quadruple are better than ever after City’s fall at the final European hurdle. 

That being said, Carlo Ancelotti’s Madrid will take some beating on the evidence of their recent knockout performances. Similarly dramatic encounters unfolded against Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea before Wednesday night’s heroics, and their iconic Italian boss discussed the mysterious force that seems to guide them through such momentous occasions after the final whistle. 

“I can’t say we’re used to living this kind of night but it happened against Chelsea too,” he told BT Sport. “It’s difficult to say why or what helps us to keep going when it seems like we’re gone. The game was almost finished and we were able to find the last energy we had.

“We played a good game against a strong rival. After that, when we were able to equalise we had a psychological advantage in extra time. I have no time to think about [losing the game]. Man City had good control of the game but the last opportunity we were able to take it to extra time.

“[It will be] fantastic, unbelievable [to play in the final] against Liverpool. Really happy to be there. I think it will be a fantastic game for football.”


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