Guardiola blames 'special' referee for Champions League exit

Perched high in the stands, Pep Guardiola buried his head and covered his eyes.

Over £500mn on transfer fees alone has been pumped into preparing City's squad for the latter stages of the Champions League in two seasons under Guardiola.

Instead, a man who is supposed to be the most cerebral and rational of coaches behaved in a way which made it the defining incident of the tie.

The elevated view was not out of choice but for allowing his emotions to boil over as the players departed for the halftime break.

Gabriel Jesus had stirred hopes of an improbable comeback when he struck inside two minutes but a dominant first-half display in which Bernardo Silva hit the post and Leroy Sane saw a goal wrongly disallowed failed to yield further reward.

Asked why he was sent off after confronting the referee, Guardiola replied: "I said it [Sane's effort] was a goal".

"I know that Mo feels very comfortable here and he knows that our style of play suits him very well", he said.

James Milner is adept at avoiding headlines.

Liverpool completed a 5-1 aggregate victory to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League. "It would have been different to go in 2-0", Guardiola moaned.

Manchester City v Liverpool- UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg
Getty Images

The Reds came into the match with a 3-0 lead from the first leg and won Thursday's contest as well, a 2-1 triumph at the Etihad Stadium.

Enter Salah. In the 57th minute, the Egypt forward pounced on a loose ball in City's area after goalkeeper Ederson Moraes saved at the feet of Sadio Mane.

"None of the Liverpool players were anywhere near Fernandinho in the first half". The Egyptian has scored 39 goals in an outstanding season since leaving the Stadio Olimpico for Anfield in a £34million deal last summer.

All of the above are reasons why Pochettino and Spurs will believe they can strike their own blow ahead of next season and lay a marker on City. "Yes we are sitting too deep", Klopp said, "because you are not pushing up".

Wijnaldum, who is thought of predominantly as something between a No.8 and a No.6 has been re-invented as a defensive option by Jurgen Klopp this season.

Even Manchester City couldn't do it. I told the lads to wake up because it was not good enough and I said we were sitting too deep. It's going to be tough whoever you play.

Meanwhile, the Reds now sit third in the Premier League, level on points with fourth-placed Tottenham who have a game in hand.

That changed the equation and left City needing to score four more.

So, three big games, three big defeats for City and Guardiola.

  • Julie Sanders