Premier League leaders Manchester City might have produced a stunning fightback to sing German side Schalke in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 but manager Pep Guardiola is of the opinion that his team isn't yet ready to lift the European title. City were down to 10 men when Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling produced a stunning turn-around to win the match 2-3.
Schalke had themselves to blame after a defensive lapse saw Sergio Aguero open the scoring for Manchester City. While Nabil Bentaleb put the scores level from the penalty spot, after a rather controversial VAR call, the former Spurs midfielder put his side in lead from the spot right on the cusp of half-time.
A second yellow for Nicolas Otamendi could've resulted into a disaster for the Citizens in the second half but Leroy Sane scored a spectacular free-kick in the 85th minute to pull the scores back level. Man City goalkeeper Ederson then earned an assist for sending Raheem Sterling through on goal, only for the England winger to convert and secure a win for his side.
“The result is incredibly good, three goals away is good,” Guardiola told media after the match while admitting that City aren't ready for the title hunt. “We gave [Schalke] the first goal, we gave the second goal and we gave the red card. In that level, still we are not ready to fight for the Champions League, but the result is good. I know how difficult it is to play in Germany. They didn’t shoot one shot on target [apart from the penalties] but they scored two goals.”
Guardiola also admitted that there was a threat of conceding a third or fourth goal was after Otamendi's red card but City managed to pull off a result that is likely to help their cause over the two legs.
“After the red card, the last 15, 20 minutes, maybe they push more and score the third and the fourth and you are out. The result is good, [the tie] is not over. Hopefully, our fans can help us in the second leg and hopefully, we can improve for the future,” said the 48-year-old.
The Spaniard was full of praise for the fightback his players showed after being reduced to 10 men. While the Premier League champions have a clear advantage going into the second leg, Pep believes that the tie isn't over yet.
“The way we played, the way we started, the way we finished, the way we reacted 10 against 11, the way we reacted at half-time, 2-1 [down], in the second half we played incredibly good. I’m more than delighted, but it’s not enough in this competition. When it happens in other stages, it’s over” he said.
With a progression in the Champions League still intact, Manchester City's hopes of securing a quadruple are still intact. They next face Chelsea in the final of the English League Cup on Sunday.