Belfast Telegraph

Guardiola hails Manchester City's young trio despite Champions League defeat

Shakhtar Donetsk 2-1 Man City

By Andy Hampson

Pep Guardiola paid tribute to Shakhtar Donetsk after they handed his Manchester City side a first defeat since April.

Guardiola's men had not lost in any competition since an extra-time defeat to Arsenal in last season's FA Cup semi-final.

Only Everton and Wolves, who eventually lost on penalties, have stopped City winning inside 90 minutes this season, but Shakhtar surged ahead with first-half goals from Bernardo and Ismaily in Ukraine.

Guardiola made seven changes to his line-up with one eye firmly on Sunday's Manchester derby, with England under-17 World Cup winner Phil Foden handed his first City start in an unfamiliar left-sided role.

Sergio Aguero was sent on with just over 20 minutes left and scored from the spot in stoppage time, but Shakhtar held on for victory and qualification for the knockout stages.

Guardiola said: "Congratulations to Shakhtar. They played a good game but we did too.

"We started really well. We fought, I'm so pleased for Tosin (Adarabioyo), Brahim (Diaz) and Phil, how good they played in the Champions League against a real good team like Shakhtar Donetsk. We came here to win but we could not.

"I'm pleased with the performance."

For Shakhtar, the win prompted jubilant celebrations with a place in the last 16 now secured. Their supporters can now look forward to seeing coach Paulo Fonseca fulfil a promise to wear a Zorro mask to a press conference if they qualified.

Their motivation was obvious and in Brazilians Taison and Bernard they boasted plenty of attacking drive.

Bernard created the first serious opportunity after breaking down the right and evading a poor challenge from Adarabioyo. Fernandinho spared City by blocking Facundo Ferreyra's shot.

Ederson then saved from Marlos but there was no denying Bernard after 26 minutes as he curled a brilliant shot over the City goalkeeper from just inside the box.

City's plight immediately got worse as they conceded a second just six minutes later, again after being cut open all too easily by their hosts.

Ederson, playing his usual sweeper-keeper role, paid the price for coming out of his area as Ismaily nicked the ball past him after latching onto a long ball from Taison. He calmly slotted home to spark wild celebrations in the stands.

City began to show some positive signs as Leroy Sane made a good run down the right, and Foden played Gabriel Jesus in on goal but Andriy Pyatov denied him a shooting chance. Ilkay Gundogan did connect with a powerful shot but Ivan Ordets blocked.

Shakhtar continued to make most of the running, with Fred going close and Taison shooting narrowly over before and after the break.

City never looked like getting back into the game although Guardiola sent on Aguero in the hope of livening up his side and Jesus did clip the outside of the post before winning a last-gasp penalty.

Aguero stepped up to tuck home the spot-kick, but time was almost up and there could be no late fightback as City surrendered their 100% group record.

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SHAKHTAR: Pyatov, Butko, Ordets, Rakitskiy, Ismaily (Azevedo, 64 mins), Fred, Stepanenko, Marlos (Kovalenko, 82 mins), Taison, Bernard, Ferreyra (Khocholava, 89 mins). Unused subs: Shevchenko, Dentinho, A Patrick, Petryak.

MAN CITY: Ederson, Danilo, Adarabioyo, Mangala, Foden, Gundogan, Fernandinho (Aguero, 70 mins), Toure, Bernardo Silva, Gabriel Jesus, Sane (Diaz, 62 mins). Unused subs: Bravo, Walker, Sterling, Otamendi, Duhaney.

Referee: Benoit Bastien (France)

Man of the match: Taison

Match rating: 7/10

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