Pep Guardiola is clearly relieved to return both Manchester City and himself to the UEFA Champions League semifinal following Wednesday’s defeat of Borussia Dortmund.
Both legs finished 2-1, but the drama could’ve been so much higher or lower. City scored late in the first leg but an early goal on Wednesday in Dortmund put the Premier League leaders in danger of exiting the competition at the quarterfinal stage for the fourth-straight season.
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“I am incredibly happy for this club, for this chairman and for the fans, everyone,” Guardiola said. “It is the second time in the semi-finals so it is not history in the club, but we start to build it. … I’m incredibly happy to be in the semi-finals, to be one of the best four teams in Europe, to be against big, strong teams and we will try to be good.”
City leveled the second leg when Emre Can was adjudged to have handled the ball when his headed clearance attempt hit his extended arm. VAR upheld the call even after sending the referee to the monitor, and Riyad Mahrez smashed home to restore CIty’s advantage.
Guardiola, though, has a long memory. Remember Fernando Llorente’s arm in Tottenham’s memorable win?
“This competition is nice but also so unfair because we are judged as a failure or a disaster when we are knocked out,” Guardiola said. “You play 11 months for the Premier League and the other competitions.
“Today it was a penalty with the hand and maybe not given on another day it could be not given. We were out for handball when it was not given against Tottenham. This competition depends on the situation. But the way we played in the second half was with personality.”
Still, it’s lovely to see the Catalan wizard unable to keep it stoic, and that’s what we saw when Phil Foden raced over to his boss to celebrate a rocket goal that sealed the tie.
“He found me. He ran all the way to the bench and he found me. We need three games to be champions of the Premier League. We are in the semifinal of the Champions League. We have a semifinal in the FA Cup and are in the League Cup Final. It’s incredible what we’ve done.”
Foden is going to be in the headlines for the goal, the celebration, and most definitely this Tweet:
— Phil Foden (@PhilFoden) April 14, 2021