We forgot to play in the second half: Pep
Manchester City advanced to the Champions League quarter finals despite suffering their first home loss in over a year, going through 5-2 on aggregate after a 1-2 defeat by Swiss champions Basel on Wednesday.
- Published 9.03.18
Manchester: Manchester City advanced to the Champions League quarter finals despite suffering their first home loss in over a year, going through 5-2 on aggregate after a 1-2 defeat by Swiss champions Basel on Wednesday.
City won the first leg 4-0 and unsurprisingly their manager Pep Guardiola chose to leave key players on the bench with none of Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero or goalkeeper Ederson featuring in the game.
With David Silva also missing and veteran Yaya Toure in midfield, City lacked the zip and fluency that has characterised their play this season.
City's last home defeat came in December, 2016 against Chelsea in the Premier League and while this loss can be largely dismissed, due to the weakened side playing a game with little at stake, there will be concern that Guardiola's second string failed to make the most of their opportunities.
One bright spot was the performance of 17-year-old midfielder Phil Foden, who became the youngest English player to feature in the knockout stage of the Champions League and delivered a composed performance throughout.
Guardiola labelled his team's second-half performance against Basel as "really, really poor" and said their possession play had been largely pointless.
City completed 978 passes, the most recorded by a side in a Champions League match since such statistics began being recorded in 2003, but Guardiola was not impressed.
"The first half was quite good but in the second half we forgot to attack, we forgot to play.
"When we pass the ball we do it to move through the opponents to attack - just to pass the ball for itself is nothing and the second half was really really poor," Guardiola told reporters.
"It is not easy to play with a 4-0 lead. We tried, we spoke about that and I think that we showed in the first half that we wanted to win the game. We created a lot of chances and we were good.
"But after 1-1 in the second half, it didn't happen. We just passed for itself and when that happens, that is not football," he added.
The result ended a 36-game unbeaten run for City at the Etihad Stadium in all competitions and the Spaniard acknowledged that his team selection had impacted Wednesday's outcome.
"You will find all the clubs in the world when you make six or seven changes, always the team is not the same," he said.
"That's why I insisted to start well and we did well in the first half. In the second half we just passed the ball to pass the ball. It was everything slowly, without rhythm."
Man city 1
City won 5-2 on aggregate