Pep’s City pay the penalty for lack of prac­tice

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

PEP GUARDI­OLA ad­mit­ted his Manch­ester City play­ers had not prac­tised penal­ties be­fore they missed two dur­ing Satur­day’s 1-1 draw at home to Ever­ton.

Kevin De Bruyne and Ser­gio Aguero both had spot­kicks saved by goal­keeper Maarten Steke­len­burg be­fore sub­sti­tute Nolito’s header earned a point for City.

For Aguero, it was a sec­ond miss of the week, af­ter he failed to con­vert a penalty for Ar­gentina dur­ing a 1-0 World Cup qual­i­fy­ing de­feat at home to Paraguay on Tues­day.

Guardi­ola, though, in­sists he has big­ger pri­or­i­ties than penalty prac­tice as he at­tempts to get his team back to form.

Asked if his play­ers had prac­tised penal­ties, he said: “No. I don’t have time to prac­tise ev­ery­thing I want to prac­tise.

“You can prac­tise penal­ties in train­ing, but in train­ing, no one (a crowd) is there. In the fi­nal of the Cham­pi­ons League, that is cru­cial. If the player says, ‘I want to be there’ (take the penalty), that is enough.”

Guardi­ola made a su­perb start to his reign as Manch­ester City man­ager but his play­ers have gone three games with­out a vic­tory in all com­pe­ti­tions, and face a daunt­ing Cham­pi­ons League trip to his for­mer club Barcelona on Wed­nes­day.

Guardi­ola said it was his re­spon­si­bil­ity to try and re­store con­fi­dence to his play­ers if that was an is­sue.

“I am here to try to make that hap­pen. I try to an­a­lyse the rea­sons we don’t win. Of course, the con­fi­dence and mood is much bet­ter when you win.”

“I am not frus­trated with the team. I am sad for the play­ers. They de­serve to win the game. They did ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing to win it,” said Guardi­ola.

“Foot­ball is some­times beau­ti­ful. They have to be more open, play a lit­tle bit more and find spaces.”

Ever­ton man­ager Ron­ald Koe­man sug­gested Steke­len­burg had the best game of his ca­reer af­ter not only sav­ing two penal­ties, but also mak­ing a world-class stop to deny De Bruyne later in the game.

“Maybe the goal­keeper played his best game ever... He saved two penal­ties and two more shots... Maybe you need luck to get a re­sult but I think we get a re­sult to­day be­cause the fight­ing spirit was amaz­ing,” Koe­man said. – AFP

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