Gundogan strike turned things around against Barca: Guardiola

Manchester, Nov 2 (IANS) Having registered a resounding win over FC Barcelona in their Champions League clash, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola asserted that the equaliser by Ilkay Gundogan helped his team stage a strong comeback.

Lionel Messi had put Barcelona in front in the first half at the Etihad Stadium here on Tuesday evening before two goals from Gundogan and a Kevin de Bruyne free-kick helped City register a 3-1 win in front of their home crowd.

It was a game of two halves as Barcelona dominated most of the opening period before Gundogan’s first goal saw the hosts make a comeback and control proceedings after half-time.

“For the first 38 minutes we saw the best team in the world. Barcelona changed the centre-backs to make diagonal balls to the full back and if they scored a second, we are in real trouble and the game is done, finished,” Guardiola told the media after the game.

“But football is like this. Our goal changed everything for our mood. The players realised the bad moment is over and in the second half we were compact and won balls with the high press.”

City are now in second place in Group C with seven points, just behind Barcelona who are at the top with nine. The English Premier League (EPL) giants now need one point from their remaining two matches to qualify for the next round.

Hailing Barcelona as the best team in the world, Guardiola asserted that Tuesday’s victory will help City build up their credentials as one of the top clubs in Europe.

“Our victory is so important and of course now we have one more game to win to go into February and hopefully in February, it will be good. But when one club like Manchester City is 25 years without being in Europe, you don’t have history. History means when you face the big teams you are constant to fight against them. We play against us, against our tradition and what we have to do,” the former Spain defender said.

“So today is a good step. We play against the best team in the world and compete against them.”

City have now registered two consecutive victories after going six games without a victory and Guardiola believes his team are now back on track. Tuesday’s win also ended a run of five successive defeats against Barcelona.

“Our victory against West Brom was so important after six games without wins. We show many good things and I am so happy for the players. They didn’t deserve six winless, how they play. Butt today we take back again with some games,” he said.

Barcelona manager Luis Enrique Martínez meanwhile lamented that his team were let down by a poor second half performance.

“We played a great 40 minutes, with scoring chances, we could have put the game away, we dominated, and we didn’t give them any chances to score. We made countless errors with possession in the second half, mistakes we do not usually commit. Their second goal came on a foul we could have avoided.

“We had a very clear chance on the play with André (Gomes), but we were not fortunate enough to score on it. Mistakes really cost you in these games. You have to get back up after you lose and keep on working,” Enrique said.

“I think that was one of the best first halves we’ve played, and on a stage like this and against difficult opponent. In the second half we expected to win back control, but it was not to be because they were good and we made errors we do not usually make.

“40 minutes for us, 50 for them,” he added.

“In the second half they were very aggressive, they forced us into more errors than we usually make.”

–IANS

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