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‘We have to accept it’ – Guardiola says Man City ‘were not good enough’ following semi-final exit

Manchester City’s hopes of reaching a second successive Champions League final were dealt a cruel blow as Real Madrid left it late to produce a stunning comeback.

Eight days ago, fans were treated to a seven-goal thriller, with Manchester City having looked like building a large first-leg advantage after a blistering start, only before allowing a Karim Benzema inspired Real Madrid back into the tie to leave it finely poised.

The second-leg in the Bernabeu was a much more cautious and tentative affair compared to what had gone on at the Etihad, with Man City looking happy to sit a little deeper in a bid to protect their aggregate lead.

Real Madrid, in need of at least one goal, started the second-half with a little more attacking impetus, with Vinicius Jr looking a threat for the newly crowned Spanish champions.

However, with 17 minutes to play, Ilkay Gundogan found Bernardo Silva in acres of space in midfield before the Portuguese went on driving towards the edge of the box before laying it to Riyad Mahrez. The Algerian made no mistake as he fired beyond Thibaut Courtois with a powerful, first-time strike.

Substitute Jack Grealish had two late chances to extend his side’s lead, the £100m man seeing one cleared off the line while one deflected narrowly wide.

Real Madrid had looked down and out in their quarter-final tie against Chelsea before digging deep to progress, and the 13 time European Cup winners would score with what was their first shot on target of the game in the 90th minute, Karim Benzema cutting the ball back to substitute Rodrygo who got in front of his man and poked the ball home to give his side a glimmer of hope.

Incredibly though, the Spanish side scored again just 88 seconds later, Rodrygo netting his second of the game as he met Dani Carvajal’s delivery from the right to despatch a wonderful header to send the game to extra time.

Three minutes into the added period and Carlo Ancelotti’s side would be awarded a penalty after Benzema was brought down in the box by Ruben Dias. The Frenchman despatched a panenka from the spot in the first leg, and this time he stepped up and calmly sent Ederson the wrong way to put his side ahead 6-5 on aggregate for the first time in over 180 minutes.

The English league leaders were unable to muster a comeback of their own in what was Pep Guardiola’s sixth Champions League semi-final exit, and speaking afterwards, the former Barcelona boss said his side ‘were not good enough’ in the first half.

“We were close. We were close. But in the end we could not reach it,” he told BT Sport.

“It is simple. In the first-half we did not have a game, we were not good enough. But we did not suffer much.

“After we scored the goal we were better. We found our tempo and our game and the players were comfortable.

“It is not like in the last 10 minutes they attack and attack and you suffer. It didn’t happen. They put a lot of players in the box, with Militao, Rodrygo, Vinicius, Benzema and they put in crosses and scored two goals.

“We didn’t play our best, but it is normal, a semi-final, the players feel the pressure and wanting to do it. Football is unpredictable, it is a game like this. We have to accept it.

“Now we need to process that and come back, with our people at home and the last four games we have.”

Manchester City now have to refocus themselves as they prepare for a huge weekend clash against Newcastle as they look to pip Liverpool to the Premier League title.

Read – Remembering the eight English players to score in a Champions League semi-final

See also – Real Madrid v Manchester City Combined XI

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