Citizens defeated Real Madrid 2-1 to secure a place in the quarter-finals.
Manchester City have defeated the La Liga champions 2-1 at Etihad to cruise to the quarter-finals. With the win, Pep Guardiola became the first manager to knock Zinedine Zidane out in the round of 16 for the first time. City will be playing Lyon, who came out as the winners in the other knockout fixture, in the quarter-finals.
City were dominant from the off, not allowing Los Blancos to have the luxury at all. The first goal resulted from an uncharacteristic howler by Raphael Varane, which helped Raheem sterling to find the back of the net. Karim Benzema came up with an equalizer, only to be cancelled by Gabriel Jesus in the second half, pouncing on yet another Varane’s silly error. Yes, Lightning had struck twice for the French World Cup winner. The Sky Blues ended the game with the aggregate score 4-2.
On the other hand, Zidane’s men looked out of options from the very beginning, and most of the star players were lacking the confidence needed for such a high-pressure game. It could be due to the absence of Sergio Ramos, but Citizens should be credited for their tactics to keep Los Blancos at bay throughout the game. The midfield trio of Toni Kroos, Casemiro and Luka Modric – arguably one of the world’s best – looked as if they were not playing the game. It was another night to forget for Eden Hazard, who had barely any inspiring moment.
Following the win, Guardiola, who has a hundred per cent success rate in the knockouts, said that City have the potential to lift the UCL title.
The Spaniard said:
“It is important. For Real Madrid to beat a big team in the last 16 is normal. For us, if we are going to be champion, we have to beat these teams. This is important for our season and for our future. It is similar to when we beat Barcelona in the knockout stage. We don’t have a lot of presence in Europe so it is so important for the club, for all the workers at the club and for our supporters.
Guardiola also heaped praises on Jesus for rising to the occasion. The Brazilian has been vital for Citizens in both the legs.
“The big players have to show on the biggest stages in the biggest games and he showed it tonight against the kings of this competition. It was a big step forward for him to show.
The former Barcelona gaffer also emphasized the fact that his side weren’t complacent as they were before this season.
Guardiola will try to change City’s fortunes in the Champions League this season, having missed out on both Premier League and FA Cup title.