Manchester City played ‘one half’ against Chelsea, says Pep Guardiola

A frustrated Pep Guardiola criticised Manchester City for only playing “one half” in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium that leaves the champions in third, four points behind Liverpool, with a game in hand.

Raheem Sterling’s 43rd-minute strike came from a breakaway move that took advantage of City’s lax defending in the opening period, before Rodri’s late equaliser shared the points.

Guardiola said: “We played incredibly in the second half. The first half was not our [normal] levels but to compete against these [level of] teams you have to play 90 minutes, not just one half.”

Rodri agreed with his manager. “When you defend like we did you can’t get more. We didn’t have a great first half,” said the midfielder. “We conceded another easy goal, we have to defend better – we have to be honest with ourselves [as] from then it’s always tougher.”

Rodri was unhappy with Andy Madley, the referee. “I don’t want to talk about the referee, but I don’t remember a game with so many VAR checks and none for us – come on man. You always see the face of the referee and it’s now, ‘move on, move on’,” he said.

The Manchester City players have their say as the referee points for a corner flag not a penalty after a VAR check for handball against Chelsea. Photograph: Darren Staples/AFP/Getty Images

While Guardiola would not be drawn on the officiating, City’s match in hand is on Tuesday when they host Brentford.

“We are going to try and get the points,” said the City manager. “I will focus on my team and I am disappointed with the result. We did our best and it finished 1-1.”

Mauricio Pochettino was pleased with the draw ahead of the next Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against Liverpool.

“We are a very young team that need to live this type of game to improve and to create the spirit we need. I’m so pleased,” said Chelsea’s manager. “I told the players I feel so proud. In the last three games we’ve started to create a very good spirit. That’s the way we want to build our team. Today was a very good opportunity to show we’re going where we want. We show in every single game we want to be competitive.

“Now we have a very good game against Liverpool. The most important thing is to keep believing. Now we have to recover and prepare for the game as well as possible. We need to feel that is is possible to beat Liverpool. I think we are going to play the second best team in the world. I think belief is the most important thing and now we need to recover and prepare for the final.”


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