Sports

‘It’s not over yet’: delight for Man City but Pep Guardiola warns of a Real Madrid fightback


Uefa Champions League last-16 first leg 
Real Madrid 1 Manchester City 2  

Pep Guardiola praised his players after they produced a stunning performance to beat Real Madrid 2-1 at the Bernabeu last night. 

It was the first time that the Sky Blues have defeated the Spanish giants in the Champions League, but it was a deserved result for a side that showed great resolve in fighting their way back from a goal down.

“I’m happy for the victory, of course, and the performance as well,” said Guardiola, whose side now have a crucial advantage ahead of the return leg at the Etihad on 17 March. 

The performance was all the more spirited given that City are still reeling from the two-year ban that means this season will be their last in Europe’s showpiece tournament until 2022-23.

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Cool and calm

It was a rather nervous first half as the two sides probed each other like boxers in a ring, and it took a defensive blunder on the hour mark for the game to really come to life. 

As Rodri and Nicolas Otamendi dithered, Vinicius Junior seized on their indecision to set up Isco for the opening goal. Sergio Ramos almost doubled Real’s advantage with a shot that blazed over the City bar, but then 12 minutes from time Gabriel Jesus headed the visitors level.

Five minutes later substitute Raheem Sterling was felled in the box and Kevin De Bruyne made no mistake from the penalty. 

Guardiola’s side had missed five of their previous seven spot kicks but the Belgian’s coolness exemplified a City display that was in contrast to Real’s, who had Ramos sent off in the dying minutes.

Halfway house

City even coped with the loss of defender Aymeric Laporte, who limped off in the first half with a hamstring injury, on a night that will go down in the club’s history. 

Nonetheless, despite their euphoria, Guardiola emphasized that the job is only half done.

“We are happy but, of course, there is the second leg,” he said. “It is still not over. If there is one team in the world that can overcome anything, it is this club [Real Madrid]. 

“Hopefully we can do a good performance and go through. We have not won anything yet but to win here is a big satisfaction.”

Asked if the Uefa ban had helped get his boys buoyed up for the match, Guardiola replied: “We cannot control what happens off the pitch, only on the pitch. These players want to do it for ourselves and our fans.”

Do or die for Zidane

Real’s head coach, Zinedine Zidane, knows that his future may well rest on the outcome of the second leg.

Last season the club were dumped out of the tournament at the last-16 stage, a bitter humiliation after three consecutive titles, and a repeat next month would probably see Zidane following Santiago Solari out of the exit. 

“I’m not happy that we played well but with ten minutes left, we changed and made errors which hurt us,” reflected the Frenchman. 

“We didn’t deserve it but this is football. We needed 90 minutes of total concentration, especially against a team like City. But we know that there’s half of this tie left and now it’s simple – we have to go to City and win.”

Lyon edge Juventus

In last night’s other last-16 tie, a first-half goal from Lucas Tousart gave Lyon a 1-0 win over Juventus in France. 

The Italian champions dominated their hosts but lacked a cutting edge in front of goal, and just after the half-hour mark Tousart converted Houssem Aouar’s cross for the winner.

Paulo Dybala thought he had levelled for Juventus late on but his effort was ruled offside. 

“It was a game of two halves,” said Lyon boss Rudi Garcia. “The first half was very beautiful. Not only did we defend very well, we respected the game plan to the letter. In the second half we didn’t exist with the ball and suffered.”

The second leg is scheduled to take place in Turin on 17 March, although that could be subject to change depending on the coronavirus outbreak that has locked down much of northern Italy this week.

Champions League results and fixtures

Last-16 first leg results 
  • Atlético Madrid 1 Liverpool 0  
  • Borussia Dortmund 2 Paris Saint Germain 1  
  • Atalanta 4 Valencia 1  
  • Tottenham Hotspur 0 RB Leipzig 1  
  • Chelsea 0 Bayern Munich 3  
  • Napoli 1 Barcelona 1  
  • Lyon 1 Juventus 0  
  • Real Madrid 1 Manchester City 2
Last-16 second leg fixtures 
  • Tuesday 10 March: Valencia vs. Atalanta (1-4 on agg); RB Leipzig vs. Tottenham (1-0)  
  • Wednesday 11 March: PSG vs. Borussia Dortmund (1-2); Liverpool vs. Atletico Madrid (0-1) 
  • Tuesday 17 March: Manchester City vs. Real Madrid (2-1); Juventus vs. Lyon (0-1) 
  • Wednesday 18 March: Barcelona vs. Napoli (1-1); Bayern Munich vs. Chelsea (3-0) 
  • All matches kick off at 8pm (GMT) and are live on BT Sport

Today’s back pages

Man City are the Real deal with ‘Bernablue’ win

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For analysis of the biggest sport stories – and a concise, balanced take on the week’s news – try The Week magazine. Start your trial today 
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