LONDON • Nigel Clough managed to retain his sense of humour after Burton's 9-0 trouncing by Manchester City, stating his hope that Pep Guardiola had "more than one glass" of wine on offer for the post-match drink.
The third-tier side's heavy loss in the League Cup semi-final first leg at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday ended their hopes of reaching the final, yet he remained light-hearted when asked what his opposite number told him at full-time.
"He said, 'Come in for a glass of wine'. I hope he's got more than a glass," said the visiting manager, who insists his team will use the return leg in a fortnight to celebrate reaching the last four.
"Do I wish we hadn't played? Not at all, we have made history in getting this far. It wasn't about tonight, it was about the achievement of getting here. We kept going right to the end, the City fans were shouting, 'We want 10'. And we stopped them, that's a positive for us."
Gabriel Jesus struck four goals as Kevin de Bruyne, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Phil Foden, Kyle Walker and Riyad Mahrez were also on target against Clough's League One side, with victory leaving their visit to the Pirelli Stadium on Jan 23 a mere formality.
City manager Guardiola said his team's merciless approach in the game was a form of respect for their opponents and the competition.
City were 4-0 up at half-time but continued to rip apart their vastly outclassed opponents as they ran up the biggest margin of victory in an English Cup semi-final.
"If you forget to continue (attacking) you don't have respect for your opponent or for the competition," said the Spaniard.
Manchester City have scored nine goals, the final one netted by Riyad Mahrez (above, left), in a single match for the first time since November 1987, when they beat Huddersfield 10-1 in a second-tier encounter. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Burton's 9-0 loss is the heaviest League Cup defeat by any side since Liverpool defeated Fulham 10-0 in the second round in September 1986. It is also the largest margin of defeat in the semi-finals of the competition.
"We spoke about it at half-time, to try to score more goals. That is the best way to respect the competition and opponent. The best way is to do what you have to do.
"The difference between the Premier League teams and League One teams, of course the quality of the players no doubt about that, but especially the rhythm. When you have high intensity and rhythm for 90 minutes, the physicality is higher and we scored quickly."
Guardiola also praised the club's achievement in reaching the last four, a run which saw them beat Premier League side Burnley and Championship teams Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough.
"Burton have had an incredible tournament. They have to be so proud, they did so well," he said.
Clough, son of Nottingham Forest's late European Cup-winning manager Brian Clough, added that he was not surprised at the outcome because of "the gulf between the two teams".
City were rightly lauded by Clough for their technical class and football rooted in total adventure but their work rate was also of the highest order.
They can outrun opponents as well as outpass them. They have the strength in depth to make changes, with only four regular first-teamers starting, and still be far too good for their opposition.
Ilkay Gundogan was doing what he does best, spraying around some exquisite passes when given time.
David Silva was gliding around, passing and moving, finding room and friendly feet, small but perfectly performing.
De Bruyne was supposedly easing his way back to full fitness but was in full Rolls-Royce mode between the boxes for an hour.
There had to be some sympathy for Burton's players facing such superior opposition. They had desperately wanted to cherish the memories of this League Cup semi-final and maybe, in time, they will.
Not at the final whistle on Wednesday, though. When Mahrez prodded in the ninth goal in the 83rd minute, they were just glad a 10th was not forthcoming.
THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS