Callow City fail to get away Scot-free

Manchester City's Nolito (centre) celebrates scoring their third goal with team-mates David Silva (left) and Fernandinho. The Premier League leaders had to equalise thrice to earn the point against Glasgow Celtic.
Manchester City's Nolito (centre) celebrates scoring their third goal with team-mates David Silva (left) and Fernandinho. The Premier League leaders had to equalise thrice to earn the point against Glasgow Celtic.PHOTO: REUTERS

Guardiola expects his side to improve after conceding three goals in draw against Celtic

GLASGOW • Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola expressed hope his players would learn their lesson after losing their 100 per cent record this season in a 3-3 Champions League draw at Celtic.

Aiming to equal Tottenham Hotspur's English record of 11 straight wins at the start of a season in 1960, City had to come from behind three times to earn a point in Wednesday's Group C clash.

City reached the semi-finals under Manuel Pellegrini last season. But Guardiola pointed to their current shortcomings as a sign of their callowness in continental competition.

"This club was 25, 26 years without playing in Europe and last year was the first time to go further than the quarter-finals," he told reporters at Celtic Park.

"So that will be a good lesson. Europe is special, teams are so strong. It doesn't matter where. We had many, many chances to win the game. We scored three goals in Europe away and we created three or four more clear chances.

 

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    Straight wins by Manchester City at the start of a season

    10

    Goals conceded in Celtic's first two Champions League matches

"So it's a pity, but that is the best way to learn. In Europe you cannot concede."

It was probably a measure of City's increased expectations that this was the kind of result that now provokes feelings of disappointment for the new regime.

It was the first time Guardiola's team had failed to win under his control, and they should know enough about the Spaniard by now to realise it will not satisfy him merely to have contributed to a night of exhilarating drama.

City showed powers of endurance given they thrice conjured up an equaliser within nine minutes.

Yet there was no doubt Scottish champions Celtic could be far more encouraged as the first team this season to cause City prolonged anxiety. Moussa Dembele created all sorts of problems. The former Fulham player scored twice, either side of an own-goal from the otherwise outstanding Raheem Sterling.

Fernandinho, Sterling and Nolito provided the equalisers.

"We're very fortunate to have him," Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers said of Dembele.

"You saw tonight, he really bullied the back four of Manchester City. But he's more than that. He's got a wonderful touch. He's got power, he's got pace. He's a huge talent and he was outstanding tonight."

Celtic were humbled 7-0 by Barcelona in their opening game, but Rodgers felt the quality of their pressing and attacking football against City proved they belong in Europe's elite club competition.

"Hopefully the performance tonight shows we are a huge club," he said. "In order to keep improving, we need to be at this level."

City, the English Premier League leaders, return to domestic action at Tottenham on Sunday. But Guardiola admitted thoughts would soon turn to the forthcoming double-header with his old club Barcelona in the Champions League.

"When you play against Barcelona, it will be tough, but now we try to analyse what we did and we're going to see what happens in Barcelona and after at home," said Guardiola, whose side trail Barcelona by two points. "We are now second, we have chances (to progress)."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 30, 2016, with the headline 'Callow City fail to get away Scot-free'. Print Edition | Subscribe