Belfast Telegraph

Pep Guardiola hails 'outstanding' Aguero as 'best team in the world' are beaten

By Mark Ogden

Pep Guardiola claimed Manchester City took the first step to building a Champions League legacy by overcoming the 'best team in the world' in a dramatic 3-1 victory over Barcelona.

Having fallen behind to Lionel Messi's first-half goal, City moved to within one victory of qualification from Group C with two goals from Ilkay Gundogan and a Kevin de Bruyne free-kick.

And former Barcelona coach Guardiola admitted the significance of the win should not be overlooked by a club still striving to create its own European history.

"For the first 38 minutes we saw the best team in the world," Guardiola said. "Barcelona changed the centre-backs to make diagonal balls to the full back and if they scored a second, we are in real trouble and the game is done, finished.

"But football is like this. Our goal changed everything for our mood. The players realised the bad moment is over and in the second half we were compact and won balls with the high press. Our victory is so important and, of course, now we have one more game to win to go into February and hopefully in February, it will be good.

"But when one club like Manchester City is 25 years without being in Europe, you don't have history.

"History means when you face the big teams you are constant to fight against them. We play against us, against our tradition and what we have to do.

"So today is a good step. We play against the best team in the world and compete against them."

City have now won twice in two games after going six games without a victory and Guardiola believes his team are now back on track following their 'undeserved' run of poor results.

"Our victory against West Brom was so important after six games without wins," he said. "We show many good things and I am so happy for the players.

"They didn't deserve six winless, how they play. But today we take back again with some games.

"I am happy we got three points.

"I learned some things about my players, how we can play on the counter attack and we can use that as a weapon in the future but I am not more happy because we beat them."

Sergio Aguero's outstanding performance proved crucial to City's victory, two weeks after the Argentine was named on the bench in the Nou Camp.

And Guardiola insisted that the forward's display proved his importance to City's future ambitions.

"He played awesome," he said. "It was one game in Barcelona, one reason why to play that movement with De Bruyne behind the back four.

"I said before and after I appreciate a lot. Sergio is not important, he is more than that. Without him, we cannot achieve our targets. I am so happy for him because he was so happy."

Belfast Telegraph


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