Gun- downed

> Guardi­ola urges Man City to build on Barca win af­ter Gun­do­gan dou­ble seals stun­ning win <

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

PEP GUARDI­OLA said Manch­ester City had es­tab­lished a bench­mark for fu­ture Cham­pi­ons League suc­cess with their stir­ring 3-1 come­back win over his for­mer club Barcelona.

City lost the re­verse fix­ture 4-0 two weeks ago, dur­ing a run of six games with­out a win, and fell be­hind in the 21st minute of yes­ter­day’s game to a stun­ning break­away goal by Lionel Messi.

But Ilkay Gun­do­gan’s brace and a Kevin De Bruyne free­kick earned City a stun­ning Group C vic­tory that Guardi­ola hopes will arm them for fu­ture con­tests in Europe’s elite com­pe­ti­tion.

“When one club like Manch­ester City is 25 years with­out be­ing in Europe, you don’t have his­tory,” the City man­ager told re­porters at the Eti­had Sta­dium.

“His­tory means when you face the big teams, you have the con­sis­tency to fight face-to-face.

“We don’t play against Barca, we play against us; against our tra­di­tion and what we have to do.”

Barcelona briefly threat­ened to run riot af­ter Messi’s goal, only for Sergi Roberto’s over­hit pass to al­low Ra­heem Ster­ling to tee up Gun­do­gan for a 39th-minute equaliser.

De Bruyne’s free­kick early in the sec­ond half put City ahead and with Barcelona un­able to han­dle the in­ten­sity of their press­ing, they struck again through Gun­do­gan to seal vic­tory in the 74th minute.

While Guardi­ola was thrilled by his side’s vic­tory, which left them two points be­low lead­ers Barcelona in Group C, he said their guerilla tac­tics were not suited to long-term suc­cess.

“The (first) 38 min­utes (shows) we can­not com­pete with the best teams in the world,” he said.

“This club was 25, 30 years out of Europe. Th­ese kind of clubs – Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bay­ern Mu­nich and so on – are play­ing ever year. They were at home.

“You need time. I know peo­ple don’t have time. I think the club gives us time. But maybe to­day is a good step to say once in our lives we play against the best team and we com­pete against them.

“Maybe in a dif­fer­ent way. We play more long balls. Be­cause still now we are not ready to keep the ball.

“We are not ready. Be­cause they are 25 years play­ing that way, we are three or four months. Some­times we have to com­pete a lit­tle bit in a dif­fer­ent way.

“Of course now they re­alise, ‘Wow, we (beat) the best team,’ so we are able to do that.

“For fu­ture gen­er­a­tions, they’re go­ing to re­alise, ‘Wow, th­ese guys were able to beat the best team and we have to do it again.’”

The win, City’s first against Barcelona af­ter five straight de­feats, means they can se­cure a place in the last 16 with vic­tory at Borussia Moenchenglad­bach in their penul­ti­mate game.

“Our vic­tory to­day is so im­por­tant and of course now we have one more game to win to go in Fe­bru­ary,” Guardi­ola said.

“The fact Glad­bach have drawn (against Celtic) gives us some breath­ing space. We are lucky that if we get through, we will not get Barca in the next round.”

Beaten man­ager Luis En­rique, Guardi­ola’s for­mer Barcelona team­mate, was un­able to ex­plain his team’s ca­pit­u­la­tion af­ter what he said was “one of the best 40 min­utes we have played”.

“I’ve not got an ex­pla­na­tion. I don’t know if you be­lieve me. There’s no ex­pla­na­tion for this,” said the Spa­niard.

“This is a game where fac­tors change things. Some­times it’s not tac­ti­cal.”

Barcelona were miss­ing first-team play­ers Ger­ard Pique, Jordi Alba and cap­tain An­dres Ini­esta, among oth­ers, but Luis En­rique said their ab­sences had not been a fac­tor.

On his team’s mis­takes, he said: “They’re nor­mal things that hap­pen in the game. When you play so well for the first 40 min­utes, if af­ter things don’t go to plan, it’s a strange feel­ing.

“But (City) played very well, pres­sured ag­gres­sively and pro­voked more er­rors from us than we did from them.” – AFP

Ar­se­nal’s French striker Olivier Giroud.

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