Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola has admitted it was a difficult pill to swallow after his side suffered a miraculous comeback against Real Madrid.
The city seemed determined to book a ticket to Paris for the English Premier League final against their Premier League rivals Liverpool when Riyad Mahrez led them 1-0 in the 73rd minute on Wednesday in Madrid, beating them 5-3 on aggregate. legs.
Jack Grealish saw the gun blocked in line and another attempt was saved by Thibaut Courtois as City threatened to evacuate, their place in the second consecutive Champions League final proved secure.
But as Los Blancos toss the numbers forward in frustration, they found a way of life when Karim Benzema managed to find Rodrygo at the edge of the six-yard box, setting a happy ending.
Surprisingly, 91 minutes later Rodrygo came to the end of another cross, beaten by Marco Asensio, heading home and pulling Madrid to the level.
The Madrid striker almost made a hat-trick in the 93rd minute, forcing Ederson to save for extra time, when a penalty for Benzema would send the Spanish giants, 13 European champions, at the expense of City.
Speaking to BT Sport after the depressing result, Guardiola said it was a cruel feeling to approach before he failed. Indeed, City did not face a single straight shot until Rodrygo scored Madrid’s first goal in the 90th minute.
“Yes, we were close. We were close – but in the end, we couldn’t reach [the finals],” he said.
“It’s easy – in the first half, we did not have a game. We were not good enough, but we did not suffer much.
“After we scored and got better, we got our tempo, our game, and the players were relaxed on the pitch.
“10 minutes ago they attacked and attacked, and you suffer, it did not happen.
“They put a lot of players in the box – Eder Militao, Rodrygo, Vinicius Jr, Benzema, and Asensio – all, and on the contrary, scored two goals.
“We didn’t suffer much – we didn’t play as hard as we could – but these times in the finals, the players feel the pressure. We were close. Football is unpredictable, it’s a game like this, sometimes you have to accept it.”
Guardiola has admitted that some players are heartbroken after the result, but he knows they will need to move on quickly and focus on the Premier League title race again. With four games left, City are one point ahead of Liverpool chasing quadruples.
“Yes [players are crushed), I mean we are nearing the end of the Champions League,” he added.
“We need time to fix that, and then come back with our people home for the last few games.”
Guardiola has now been knocked out of the Champions League semi-final six times as manager, including Jose Mourinho.