Pep Guardiola shrugged off Manchester City’s first defeat since April
and praised the performance of three young players who were given a chance to shine against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Wednesday.
A pair of Marlos assists consigned City to their first defeat in any competition this season, with the hosts’ first-half goals from Bernard and Ismaily rendering Sergio Aguero’s stoppage-time penalty a mere consolation.
Teenager Phil Foden became the youngest Englishman to start a Champions League game, while 20-year-old Tosin Adarabioyo was included from the start in defence and 18-year-old Brahim Diaz hit the post shortly after he came off the bench.
Foden and Diaz were both lively in attack, despite City failing to close Group F with a perfect record, and Guardiola was satisfied with the way his team played against Shakhtar, who qualified as runners-up thanks to their third home win in the pool.
“Congratulations to them but we did it too [qualified for the knockout rounds],” Guardiola told BT Sport.
“We started really well but they countered magnificently for the first goal. The second goal we didn’t defend well but we fought.
“I’m so pleased for Tosin, Brahim and Phil for the way they played against a talented team like Shakhtar. We came here to win but we could not – but we tried.
“We were 2-0 down but we tried, we changed a bit and we created some good spaces outside but they defended well inside. But we did it [qualified] and I’m pleased and happy for the performance.”
Juventus and Guardiola’s former club Bayern Munich are among the elite clubs City could meet in the knockout rounds but Guardiola is not worried about Monday’s draw.
“In this situation it always happens [speculation about opponents],” he added. “On Monday it is the draw but it depends how the team arrives in that moment.
“Maybe you are good today and a disaster in February – or the other way around. You never know.
“Now we are going to rest and we are going to come back tomorrow and prepare for the [Manchester United] game.”
Guardiola rested several stars with an eye on Sunday’s trip to Old Trafford, with Bernardo Silva among those given a chance to stake a claim for more first-team action.
And, like his manager, Silva is unconcerned about the prospect of facing one of European football’s giants in the next phase.
“The game didn’t go as we expected – in the first half they were better than us. They had their goal in their minds and it was a deserved win, congratulations to them,” Silva told BT Sport.
“Second half we tried to come back and had our chances but unfortunately we only scored at the end of the game. We’re not happy as we wanted to win despite already qualifying – but this is football, sometimes you lose. We’ll try to come back from this loss.
“We have played against some amazing teams this season already – Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal – and we did well. When you play teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich in the Champions League you never know.
“It’s not easy but we’ll see what happens in the last 16 and, if we can get through, in the quarter-finals as well. We’ll try to do our best to win all the competitions.”