Pep Guardiola praises Manchester City’s performance in Porto stalemate

Pep Guardiola expressed satisfaction with the performance and outcome as Manchester City secured top spot in their Champions League group with a goalless draw at Porto.

City were not at their exhilarating best on Tuesday but, with qualification for the last 16 achieved with two games to spare, they were under little pressure at the Estadio do Dragao.

Porto, needing just a point themselves to join City in the knockout stages, also appeared to set their stall out for a draw and they frustrated the visitors by defending stoically throughout.

“We played incredibly well,” said City boss Guardiola. “We attacked, we didn’t concede one corner, we didn’t concede one shot on target.

“Alongside Benfica they are the best side in Portugal for the quality they have, the physicality they have, how quick they are up front. We played exceptionally well.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t score but we came here to finish first. We are happy, I guess, and Porto as well.”

City, who have been beaten in the quarter-finals for the last three years, have made relatively-easy work of the group stage this year.

They won their opening four games with little alarm and remain unbeaten after the stalemate in Portugal.

Guardiola said: “A big, incredible compliment and congratulations for the team for all the group stage, especially the games we play away. We played with huge personality and courage.

“In this period – and with the way this season has started – the Champions League was tricky. When you lose one or two games or draw, always you have to go to the last game and with the Covid situation and injuries always there would have been a risk.

“But we have done an incredible group stage. I know it is (considered) a disaster if we are not able to do it but we know the other groups were difficult – incredible teams are finding it difficult to qualify.

“So this competition is really, really difficult. If you slip one or two games everything is going to be complicated from the beginning.”

There is now nothing at stake for City in next week’s final group game against Marseille. They can focus their attention on the Premier League games either side – Fulham this Saturday and then Manchester United the following weekend.

Guardiola said: “I am more than delighted with the performances in these games. We have one left – nothing to play (for), just maintain the rhythm.

“It is a day to be happy. Now it is time to forget the Champions League until February and focus on the Premier League.”

Porto boss Sergio Conceicao was proud of his players.

He said: “We achieved qualification with an impressive series of games on our part.

“It is our 16th time in the round of 16, more than double that of all other Portuguese teams. We carry the name of Portugal in Europe very high.

“We showed good moments of defensive organisation tonight, although it was difficult to get up front as we wanted – much because of City, who react well when they lose the ball.”