Pep Guardiola felt his Manchester City team made a real statement as they came from behind to beat Paris St Germain and reach the Champions League last 16.
Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus struck as City responded to a Kylian Mbappe goal to claim a 2-1 win in a pulsating clash at the Etihad Stadium that sealed top spot in Group A.
City will now go through to the knockout stages for a ninth successive year and, after reaching last year’s final, they appear to mean business again.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) November 24, 2021
Asked if the victory over such a star-studded side sent out a statement, Guardiola said: “Of course.
“PSG – what a team, what players, what can I say?
“We tried to keep these players far away from our goal. When they are close to your goal they can do anything.
“Except for five minutes after we conceded, when they (went for the) knock out on the counter-attack but couldn’t finish, we made a really top performance.
“We are happy to be in the next stage. Congratulations to everyone in the club. It’s many years of being there.
“Now we will focus on the Premier League and try to arrive in February in the best condition possible to go to the quarter-finals.”
City were without three creative players in Kevin De Bruyne, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden, the latter pulling out on the eve of the game with a minor injury problem.
That forced a change of plan with Oleksandr Zinchenko, who has chiefly played as a left-back under Guardiola, drafted into an attacking midfield role.
— Ilkay Gündogan (@IlkayGuendogan) November 24, 2021
Guardiola said: “We know each other quite well and they know what they have to do. They are smart enough. Oleks has not played this position much but plays there for Ukraine.
“We played really well and the way we are performing is really good. People enjoy watching us and we are enjoying playing. Hopefully we can sustain this as long as possible.”
It was a frustrating night in Manchester for PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino in a week in which he has been heavily linked with the managerial vacancy across the city at United.
He denied the speculation over his future had unsettled the squad.
The former Tottenham manager said: “The players know very well the situation – we are living in a business in which rumours are there, sometimes negative, sometimes positive. That is what we say about the rumours.”
Despite the defeat, PSG will still go through to the last 16 as group runners-up.
Pochettino said: “Credit to Man City, they are a really good team. We are disappointed but we need to look forward.
“We are improving and I am happy in the process. Things are better than one month ago and much better than two months ago. Little by little the team is improving.”