Belfast Telegraph

Guardiola thrilled to win 'special game' against multi-talented Monaco

By Paul Burrows

Pep Guardiola praised Manchester City's never-say-die attitude against a Monaco side capable of scoring "a thousand million goals".

The hosts twice found themselves behind against the talented Frenchmen but roared back with a battling late show that delivered a two-goal cushion to take into next month's return leg.

While acknowledging that City's defending left a lot to be desired, Guardiola enthused about the attacking performances served up by both teams on a memorable night at The Etihad.

"It was a special game," he said.

"I cannot deny that. It had up and downs. We attacked quite good, although our build up was quite slow - but it was not easy because Monaco are so organised. Of course, we have to improve.

"A lot of things happened. Everything is open. We played against incredible players, who were quick on the counter attack and in the midfield, and strong physically.

"We attacked in small spaces and we defended with huge spaces behind. That's why they wanted me to come here. Everybody has to be congratulated because if one team can score a thousand million goals, it's Monaco!

"If you are not able to control all the game, especially the counter attack, it's so rough. We have to improve - the first and second goals were mistakes.

"Today, the lesson is we never gave up. In some moments we were lucky but we were unlucky in the first half.

"I am so happy for the result and the performance. We are still alive.

"These kind of things help this club achieve another step forward. Monaco have more history in the competition. You have to live these kind of situation to get better and become a better team.

"It's a huge compliment for the players to be there - to never give up. That's why we are still alive."

Guardiola also hailed the performance goalkeeper Willy Caballero, who made a number of crucial stops - including a penalty save to deny Falcao.

"In that moment it would have been 1-3 and mentally would have been so tough," he added,, "but Willy made an excellent penalty save. It was a marvellous game - everybody enjoyed it in the stadium and at home."

Raheem Sterling said beating Monaco was "the most important thing", despite the visitors' three away goals and reflected: "It was end-to-end stuff and, at the end of the day, Monaco gave us a real tough game. I was impressed with the way they kept scoring. We had to keep pulling back and that's what we've done and we've got the win and that's the most important thing."

Fellow scorer John Stones, meanwhile, said: "I thought we created so much and could have had a few penalties as well. I thought I needed to make amends for what happened at other end so to get a goal on a personal level was delightful."

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