Guardiola reflects on 'tough' Champions League exit for Man City
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Manchester City centre-back duo Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte have been criticised for “lazy defending” in their dramatic Champions League exit to Real Madrid. Former Aston Villa captain Gabriel Agbonlahor has criticised the duo as well as blasting City boss Pep Guardiola for his substitution of Kevin De Bruyne.
Real scored twice late in normal time to take the semi-final second leg to extra-time. City were stunned and Real took the lead for the first time in the tie after Dias fouled Benzema in the penalty area and the Frenchman stepped up to convert the spot-kick.
City were unable to hit back and Guardiola’s side suffered more heartache on Europe’s biggest stage. Speaking on talkSPORT on Thursday morning, Agbonlahor singled out Dias and Laporte, claiming the pair in particular were to blame for “bottling” the tie.
The pundit said: “Just switch on, you’re so close to getting to the Champions League final, the one that you want. Switch on if you’re the defence.
“I thought that the defence was poor all night to be fair. Weren’t switched on, Dias and Laporte, poor defending.
“So lazy, lazy defending. Some of them Manchester City players have got to look at themselves in the mirror and say ‘we did bottle it’. Especially the centre-halves.”
Guardiola substituted De Bruyne in the 72nd minute, with Ilkay Gundogan replacing him. But Agbonlahor says it was the wrong decision and the Belgian should have remained on just in case he was needed.
He added: “When I look back at it, I just think yes you’re winning 1-0 but Real Madrid have done it [before]. They’ve done it against PSG, they’ve done it against Chelsea, do not bring off your talisman Kevin De Bruyne. 72nd minute, do not bring him off.
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“You’ve only got Newcastle on Sunday, Newcastle at home. Gundogan can play, you’ve got other players that can come in, Fernandinho can play.
“You had no reason to bring Kevin De Bruyne off so early. I think sometimes Pep can overthink it and I think last night he over thought it.
“If De Bruyne stays on and the worst thing happens, that Real Madrid gets two goals, you need De Bruyne for the 30 minutes of extra-time. It just didn’t make sense.
“See it through, keep De Bruyne on the pitch, and it probably would have been a different game.”
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