Hard-fought win a lesson for City: Pep

Guardiola says club will improve only if they suffer and fight back; win provides relief after Lyon loss

Manchester City's David Silva scoring a late winner past Hoffenheim goalkeeper Oliver Baumann in the 2-1 Champions League win. City are now second in Group F, a point behind Lyon.
Manchester City's David Silva scoring a late winner past Hoffenheim goalkeeper Oliver Baumann in the 2-1 Champions League win. City are now second in Group F, a point behind Lyon.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SINSHEIM (Germany) • Pep Guardiola admitted that Manchester City played with "a little bit of fear" after conceding a shock opening-minute goal, but the "important" fightback to secure a 2-1 Champions League victory over Hoffenheim was a major learning experience.

The English champions fell behind to a goal from Ishak Belfodil after just 44 seconds at the Rheine-Neckar-Arena and, while Sergio Aguero soon equalised, Guardiola's men had to wait until the 87th minute for David Silva's poached winner to claim victory.

In light of the 2-1 home defeat by Lyon in City's Group F opener, manager Guardiola was especially pleased with the manner of his side's comeback, which puts the Premier League side in good stead for the future.

The club have tasked the Spaniard with winning the Champions League for the first time in their history in addition to retaining their league title this term.

"After the last game, it was so important that we didn't lose. A win in Germany is always so complicated and we will learn, it's a good three points because we fought against a lot of things," Guardiola told BT Sport, before conceding City were tentative before the break.

"We need to live this type of experience as a club to improve, to get better. You cannot make the next steps if you don't suffer or live this kind of experience, where you have to fight against everything.

"We are a step below the history in Europe of Liverpool, the Spanish teams, Bayern Munich or Inter Milan. We have to do this step by step. This is one of the happiest days I have had at this club as it will help us going forward."

Things, however, did not go according to plan at the start after Hoffenheim scored the fastest goal City had ever conceded in European football's top-tier competition.

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    Seconds it took Hoffenheim to take the lead against Manchester City.

Seven minutes later, Aguero restored parity with his eighth goal in 10 matches this season to put City, who dominated the proceedings, back on course. But the Bundesliga side remained dangerous on the break and held firm until Silva cashed in on a late defensive error.

It seemed as if City would be deprived of the win when Leroy Sane, who was outstanding on his return to Germany, was clearly brought down in the penalty area in the second half when rounding goalkeeper Oliver Baumann but no spot kick was awarded.

Guardiola, who was back on the touchline after serving a one-match European ban, leapt off the bench in rage, but he refused to discuss the incident afterwards for fear of ending up back in the stands.

"I don't want to talk because if I do, I will be in the tribune. I want to be on the bench with my players in the next game," he added.

The 47-year-old also warned his players that Group F was far from done and dusted, even though City are back in control of their destiny.

"Now it's in our hands unlike before and, of course, we cannot make the (same) mistake (in the future like) we did against Lyon. It will come down to our final game this time."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 04, 2018, with the headline 'Hard-fought win a lesson for City: Pep'. Subscribe