Pep Guardiola praises Man City fightback after thrilling Champions League win

22 February 2017 12:09

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola hailed his players for their fightback in the thrilling 5-3 Champions League last-16 first-leg victory over Monaco.

And he anticipates the second leg being another open contest in which they will need at least one more goal to secure quarter-final qualification.

City trailed 2-1 at half-time and 3-2 just after the hour mark at the Etihad Stadium before roaring back in impressive fashion.

And Guardiola said afterwards: "A lot of things happened. Still everything is open.

"I'm so happy for the result because we're still alive, and especially for the performance of the guys - for most of them it is the first experience in the Champions League, and this kind of thing maybe helps for the club to achieve another step.

"You have to live these kind of situations - to be in trouble and overcome the situation - to get better, to be a better club, a better team.

"Huge compliment to the players. They never gave up. That is why we are still alive."

Raheem Sterling's opener for the hosts was cancelled out by Radamel Falcao, with exciting teenager Kylian Mbappe then putting the visitors ahead.

At the start of a crazy second half, Falcao's poor penalty was saved by Willy Caballero, but the Colombia striker then swiftly responded to Sergio Aguero drawing City level by making it 3-2 with a sublime chipped finish.

Aguero was then key to City's comeback, volleying home to draw things level at 3-3 and, after John Stones had put City ahead, teeing up Leroy Sane's fifth for Guardiola's men.

This game had always appeared likely to provide entertainment given the attacking prowess of either side and it certainly delivered on that front - while there was some seriously shaky defending on display.

Guardiola admitted City have to improve at the back for the second leg.

But he also stressed they will not be looking simply to defend the lead during the game in France on March 15, which he expects to be another contest full of attacking play where the Blues will need to score again if they are going to seal a place in the last eight.

"Of course we have to improve (in defence) - the first goal is a mistake, and the second goal again," Guardiola said.

"But today the lesson is we didn't give up.

"They (Monaco) play in that way - they attack more and more. And I'm pretty sure we are going to go to fly to Monaco to score goals as much as possible. That is my target - not to defend the result.

"Now we know each other better. We are going to adjust something, they are going to adjust something, but you have to go there to score goals. It is impossible to go through if we don't score a goal. If we don't score a goal we will be eliminated."

He added: "I would like to see how many teams are able to make a clean sheet against Monaco this season. They have a lot of talent, fantastic players."

Guardiola also refused to comment on a controversial moment in the first half when Aguero went down in the box and was booked for diving, simply saying "next question" four times when asked about it and adding: "I want to go to Monaco. I'm so happy with how we did and I want to talk about football."

Source: PA