Belfast Telegraph

Manchester City are not ready to win Champions League: Guardiola

 

Get in: David Silva celebrates his goal in City’s win over Palace
Get in: David Silva celebrates his goal in City’s win over Palace
Pep Guardiola

By George Sessions

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says they are still not ready to win the Champions League, insisting they must improve if they wish to achieve that goal.

The Premier League champions responded to the 2-0 loss to Wolves at the beginning of October with a win by the same scoreline at Crystal Palace on Saturday.

City still trail Liverpool in the table after losing twice already in the league this season and are next in action tomorrow at home to Atalanta in Group C of the Champions League.

It is a competition the club and Guardiola have longed to win, but the Spaniard suggested after the victory at Selhurst Park it is a long way off yet.

"We miss a lot of chances in the final third and we have to do that to be clinical. When the people say about the Champions League being the target, we are still not ready," he said.

"We create a lot and we don't concede, but we can still improve. We are a team in the last two seasons who score a lot and create a lot. I don't have doubt about that, but still we have to keep going and work on that."

Guardiola referenced the save Ederson made from Christian Benteke in the second half, which ensured City remained in control at Selhurst Park.

Had the Palace substitute netted in the 76th minute, it would have set up a dramatic finale in south London.

Yet City remained on top and should have scored a couple more late on with Kevin de Bruyne hitting the post and Raheem Sterling firing wide from close range.

It did not matter, after first-half goals from Gabriel Jesus and the excellent David Silva, and Guardiola praised the Brazilian forward, who netted his 50th goal for the club since moving to the Etihad in January 2017 from Palmeiras for a deal worth a reported £27m.

"He will have a long career and with his mentality he will always have success. He is hungry, he will become an important striker around the world and we are lucky to have him," Guardiola added.

"Gabriel was always good from the beginning. Unfortunately he had the two tough injuries. Last season it was tough for him, after the World Cup it was not easy, but he is strong.

"He is a No.9 for Brazil. The club brought an incredible, young player for an incredible price. One of the best signings.

"To compete with Sergio (Aguero) is maybe the most difficult thing. Sergio is a legend, an outrageous player - amazing, but Gabriel is so calm. He is a competitor, every training session he fights like an animal, but he is young and can improve."

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson was proud of his players after their 2-0 defeat.

The home side managed to keep out the Premier League champions for 39 minutes before City struck twice in 90 seconds to put the game beyond the Eagles.

City were short of options at centre-back with John Stones only back from injury and Nicolas Otamendi unavailable after picking up a knock, so midfielders Rodri and Fernandinho had to slot in.

When asked whether Palace could have done more against City with their injury problems, Hodgson said: "If you take great chances against them and push a lot of players forward they punish you on the counter-attack.

"I don't know if we could have done a lot more with the players that we had to play against them than we did. I'm quite proud of the players, despite the coming out 2-0 down after half-time.

"The way they went about their business, and the way they worked so hard to keep going and even create a few chances which they did at the end.

"I don't know if I could have asked the players for any more than they've given us."

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