Pep Guardiola has admitted defeat was hard to take after Real Madrid dramatically snatched a place in the Champions League final from his side Manchester City.
The Spanish side produced a stunning late fightback in their semi-final second leg at the Bernabeu Stadium on Wednesday to win 3-1 on the night and prevail 6-5 on aggregate after extra time.
The result sent Real to a final date with Liverpool in Paris later this month and extended last year’s runners-up City’s long wait for European glory.
City boss Guardiola said: “I had defeats in the Champions League, I had tough defeats at Barcelona when we couldn’t reach the final.
“But it’s difficult for us, I can’t deny that. We were so close to the Champions League final.
“We didn’t play well in the first half, we didn’t find our game. The second half was much better and after the goal we had control.
“We found our game but unfortunately we couldn’t finish. The players gave their all. We were so close.”
Real have enjoyed a remarkable run in the competition this season, also coming from behind to beat Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea in the round of 16.
“It’s happened many times in their history,” said Guardiola, whose side must now regroup ahead of a crucial Premier League game against Newcastle at the weekend.
“It will have a positive impact on the Real Madrid players, but I don’t really know for us. We didn’t suffer much until they scored, but we didn’t play our best.”
Ancelotti: The history of Real Madrid takes us forward
Real, who are aiming for a record 14th European crown, beat Liverpool in the 2018 final.
The same two teams also met in the showpiece of 1981, which was also played in Paris and won by the English team.
Real manager Carlo Ancelotti, who last year managed neighbors Liverpool Everton, said: “The game was about to be over but we managed to find the last energy we had.
“We played a good game against a strong rival. When we managed to equalise, we had a psychological advantage in extra time.
“I can’t say that we are used to living this kind of life, but what happened tonight happened against Chelsea and also against Paris.
“If you have to say why, it’s the history of this club that keeps us going when it looks like we’re gone.
“I’m happy to be in the final, in Paris against another great team. It will be a fantastic game for football.”
Analysis: How are Man City recovering?
Sky Sports’ Adam Bate:
The margins were thin, desperately thin. Jack Grealish had two chances. He did well for both. Had the ball ricocheted off Phil Foden from a slightly different angle for the first chance. If Thibaut Courtois had worn smaller nails for the second. Yes…
What followed was impossible to explain, an abnormal event, but the fact that Real Madrid keep doing it. It was their evening but what remains of Manchester City’s season? It’s a thought that will be far away in the Spanish capital but will have to come back soon.
Pep Guardiola will be private. Another missed chance when he appeared to have a team capable of winning this Champions League, ending his own 11-year wait for European club football’s biggest prize. Unlike some of the previous near misses, he played it straight.
There were no shock omissions, his configuration neither too aggressive like in 2018 nor too cautious like in 2019. He had tweaked the system and had been eliminated by Lyon in 2020. He had surprised some of them in asking Ilkay Gundogan to do Rodri’s job in the sequel. final of the year.
Here, his replacements, and not those of Carlo Ancelotti, almost made the difference. Grealish was oh so close to being the bench hero. If that had happened, City might have been the favorites to beat Liverpool in Paris, just like winning the Premier League. Yes…
Instead, Guardiola must lift his players, refocus them knowing that the trophy that has eluded them again – the one they dreamed of – is gone for another year. All they can do now is maintain their standards, hoping that a national title will satisfy them. Easier said than done.