Guardiola reflects on 'tough' Champions League exit for Man City
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Ex-Arsenal manager Arsenal Wenger has taken a swipe at Jack Grealish for not ‘fighting’ to prevent Real Madrid’s second goal as they dumped Manchester City out of the Champions League semi-finals on Wednesday. A stunning stoppage-time flurry from the hosts ensured Pep Guardiola’s wait to lift the coveted trophy with Man City continued.
Riyad Mahrez’s 73rd-minute opener complemented City’s dominant performance at the Bernabeu before Grealish missed a guilt-edged chance to seal a momentous victory in the closing stages. However, substitute Rodrygo struck twice in two minutes in the dying embers to level the aggregate score at 5-5 and force the clash into extra-time.
And the momentum continued to swing the Spaniards’ way as Karim Benzema slotted home a 95th-minute penalty, sealing passage to a showdown against Liverpool in his home country. After full-time, Wenger pinpointed Grealish’s role in Real’s leveller and claimed City made ‘big mistakes’ on the wings.
He told beIN Sports: “When you look at 1-1 when Grealish is against Carvajal, he is passed easily, too easily. He must absolutely fight to stop that cross! You do not want the ball in the box; anything can happen when everybody goes forward.
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“That is where City did not secure the game, defending on the sides. Because they conceded, even when you look when Benzema gave the ball back, they didn’t really attack the ball the defenders. They made big mistakes.”
Wenger also heaped praise on Real for their repeated ability to come back from the dead throughout their Champions League run this season. Carlo Ancelotti’s side were on the verge of elimination in all three of their knockout ties against PSG, Chelsea and City, but have managed to stay alive.
“When you’re a manager, and you lose a game, you go home and always think, ‘what have I done wrong’,” Wenger added. “The second thing I would say is that what is surprising for me is that this team from Madrid; when they need an answer to a problem, they always find a solution. Let’s not forget they scored six goals against City, they scored six against Chelsea. It is not always the case that City concede six goals in two games. They have something special.”
Real will feature in their 17th Champions League final at the Stade de France later this month, searching for a record-extending 14th Champions League crown. But Liverpool are the favourites to claim their seventh success and earn vengeance from defeat in the 2018 Kyiv final.
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