Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP)
Pep Guardiola slammed his criticism after the Manchester City manager finally led his side to the Champions League final with a 2-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday.
Riyad Mahrez’s brace at the Etihad Stadium sealed an overall success of 4-1 in the semi-final second leg.
City will make their first-ever Champions League final appearance against Chelsea or Real Madrid in Istanbul on May 29.
It was a cathartic moment for City boss Guardiola who was spurred on by claims he only won the Champions League with Barcelona thanks to the genius of Lionel Messi.
The Argentine superstar was pivotal to Barca’s two Champions League triumphs under Guardiola in 2009 and 2011.
Since leaving Barca in 2012, Guardiola had been unable to return to the Champions League final in three years with Bayern Munich and his first four seasons at City.
But the 50-year-old finally took City to the Promised Land and he was quick to point out how difficult the achievement was.
“We fought together and we are in the Champions League final and those are fine words,” Guardiola said.
“People think it’s easy to get to the Champions League final. Getting to the final now makes sense of what we’ve been doing for the past four or five years.
“Manchester United won a title (of the Champions League) because of the slip of John Terry and also at the last minute against Bayern Munich. Real Madrid won a final against Atletico in the 93rd minute.
“It’s a competition that’s so tough and something in the stars is involved in that. “
Praising the City side for thriving despite the demands of an exhausting matchlist, Guardiola paid tribute to his players.
“It’s for all of us and for the club. I’m incredibly proud and my first thoughts are with the players who haven’t played today. They all deserved to play, everyone made a contribution and now it’s time to enjoy it. Guardiola said.
“Paris wins the championship every year, it’s a team made to win, they fought to the end. It’s a huge team but we were so composed.
“They put a lot of players in the middle and we had a lot of trouble in the first half at high pressure and we changed at half time.
“We got the ball better in the second half and we were much better in the way we played. “
City have already won the League Cup and with their place to the Champions League final reserved, Guardiola will focus on the Premier League title with a win over Chelsea on Saturday.
“We have to win the championship and we have two or three weeks to prepare for the final,” he said.
Mahrez was City’s key man in the draw as the Algerian’s brace added to the free kick he scored to put City 2-1 in the first leg.
Mahrez admitted that City knew the victory was over once PSG started to rampage, culminating in Angel Di Maria’s unnecessary red card for a petulant stamp on Fernandinho.
“It was a very good game. We didn’t start well, but we got the goal and we were more comfortable after that, ”said Mahrez.
“They must have come to us. We’re good on the counter. This is how the two goals came about.
“We could have scored more. They lost their temper and started kicking us. After the red card, it was good for us. “
© 2021 AFP