Pep Guardiola praises ‘exceptional’ Man City after Champions League exit v Real Madrid

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Despite crashing out of Europe, Pep Guardiola couldn’t fault his players and their performance against Real Madrid.

Pep Guardiola said he couldn't have asked any more of his players on Wednesday as Manchester City crashed out of the Champions League at the hands of Real Madrid.

The Premier League champions drew 1-1 in 90 minutes (4-4 on aggregate) which required extra-time and eventually penalties to determine a winner. Missed spot-kicks from Bernardo Silva and Mateo Kovacic proved decisive and Antonio Rudiger converted the final penalty as Madrid won 4-2 in the shootout.

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But it was a game in which Madrid sat deep and produced little going forward across 120 minutes, and they didn’t manage a shot on target after Rodrygo scored in the 12th minute. In contrast, City dominated the match, accrued 68 percent of possession and managed 33 shots.

Finding a way past a stubborn Madrid defence was another matter though, and Carlo Ancelotti’s side proved almost impossible to crack. The one mistake Los Blancos made was punished as Kevin De Bruyne capitalised on Rudgier’s scuffed clearance in the box and trashed the ball beyond Andriy Lunin.

After a game that City completely controlled, Guardiola praised the ‘exceptional’ performance from his players and said he couldn’t have asked for any more.

“I would have preferred to win,” said the City manager. “First of all, congratulations to Real Madrid, they defended so deep with incredible solidarity. We did everything. I don't have any regrets about what we have done. 

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“Always we try as a manager to create more and concede less in every single game because we believe that it helps you to be close to win and we did everything. There were three or four transitions but that is normal. We played exceptional in all departments and unfortunately we could not win. It is what it is.

“You have to give credit to Real Madrid,” he added. “They were able to resist and put up with what we gave them tonight. We've played teams before who have stayed very deep and often we've found the way through the door but we weren't able to do it. We accept it, and that's all we can do.

“We did everything to almost do it and it hurts, but what a fantastic way to lose. We weren't bad tonight and we will have to lift ourselves up but you just try and do it. 

“What can I say to these players who have been here for so long? We've gone on to show that we can play well against a big side like Real Madrid.

“What more explanations can I give? I don't know what we could have done more. You lose the penalty shootout 4-3 and that's all we were missing tonight.”

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