Pep Guardiola: Manchester City 4-0 Real Madrid
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Guardiola hails ‘special’ players as Man City set up Champions League final with Inter Milan

Pep Guardiola praised the character of his Manchester City side as they put Real Madrid to the sword to book their place in the Champions League final.

The tie was delicately poised after the pair played out a 1-1 draw in the Spanish capital last week, though it was Manchester City who started like a steam train.

 

The Premier League leaders were dominant from the off, with Real Madrid having Thibaut Courtois to thank on a number of occasions for keeping the scores level, the former Chelsea stopper twice making superb reactionary saves to deny Erling Haaland

City finally made one of their chances count in the 23rd minute though, Kevin de Bruyne slicing the Real Madrid defence apart with a sublime through ball, picking out the run of Bernardo Silva who smashed past the Belgian at his near post.

Eight minutes before the interval, the Portuguese deservedly made it two. A driving Jack Grealish run into the box was laid off to Ilkay Gundogan, and while the German’s shot was saved, the ball looped up to Silva who nodded home.

Aside from a flying save from Ederson to tip over a David Alaba free-kick, Real Madrid really didn’t look like getting back into the game, and with 14 minutes to play, City confirmed their place to face Inter Milan in the Istanbul final as they made it 3-0. A De Bruyne free-kick from the left was flicked on by Manuel Akanji, before it took a deflection off Eder Militao and beyond Courtois.

Julian Alvarez – seconds after being introduced – made it four in the first minute of stoppage time, the Argentine latching onto a lovely reverse pass from fellow substitute Phil Foden before firing into the bottom corner.

City are now unbeaten in 26 appearances at the Etihad, and Pep Guardiola hailed the quality and character of his players.

“At home we feel incredibly comfortable with our people,” he told BT Sport.

“I had the feeling that we had one year being in our stomach what happened last season. I think today everything went out of what we had, It was so painful last season [losing to Real Madrid in the Champions League]. When the people say [there is a] lack of character in these players but during one year we showed how special a group of players these are.

“When you reach the final of the Champions League you have to celebrate. Unfortunately we won’t have time because Sunday we can win the Premier League. Tomorrow will be with our families then prepare for Sunday.”

The Catalan reserved individual praise for two-goal hero, Bernardo Silva.

“The players were outstanding. On this type of stage, in these types of games Bernardo is always there. He is one of the best players I have seen in my life.

The win was revenge for the defeat to Madrid at the same stage last season, though Guardiola insisted a final against an Italian team is ‘not the best gift’.

“We didn’t have to come back from 3-1 down, we just needed to win one game, be ourselves.

“Madrid is, my god what a team, last season was what happened, happened. We were not lucky enough to win it but today from minute one we had the feeling the people were ready. It was calm, they made a lot of jokes these days so I didn’t feel any tension or anxiousness. I felt we were ready today to do a performance.

“A final against an Italian team is not the best gift, honestly. They are competitive. This victory will get a lot of compliments but we have time to prepare mentally.”

Read – Remembering each UCL semi-final Pep Guardiola has been involved in as a manager

Read Also – Bottlers? Most time spent at the top of the table without winning the Premier League

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