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Man City through to knockout stages but Gundogan admits they ‘struggled’ against Shakhtar

Manchester City secured their qualification for the Champions League knock-out stages, despite labouring to a 1-1 draw at home to Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday night.

Ilkay Gundogan opened the scoring for Pep Guardiola’s side at the Etihad, only for substitute Manor Solomon to come off the bench to equalise for the Ukrainian visitors.

The draw coupled with Atalanta’s win over Dinamo Zagreb means the Premier League champions qualify from Group C as group winners, though goalscorer Gundogan admits his side ‘struggled’ in a below-par performance.

Speaking on his goal and a subdued display from City, Gundogan told BT Sport: “Gabby [Jesus] kept the ball for me and then it was not too difficult to score. Unfortunately, we got a draw which we have to accept but we qualify as group winners which is the most important thing,

”We knew this game would be tough. We let them play and didn’t defend as well as we normally do, so we struggled to create. It was not our best performance but this is the Champions League and it is a competition where you have to struggle

“We are on the way. In the Premier League we are nine points behind the leaders which is not what we are aiming for but this is the situation you have to deal with. We have dropped unnecessary points in a few games already, and to remain at the top, you are not allowed to.

”We need to be there if Liverpool slip and we are through in the Champions League, but there is still plenty of work to improve. Not results, but more the way we play.”

Man City return to Premier League action this weekend with a trip to face Newcastle at St James’ Park on Saturday lunchtime.