Pep Guardiola hailed Manchester City’s historic achievement in reaching the club’s first Champions League final after a superb 2-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain sealed an impressive 4-1 aggregate victory.
Goals from Riyad Mahrez in each half and a rock-solid defensive performance at the Etihad Stadium ensured City will face either Chelsea or Real Madrid in the showpiece in Istanbul on May 29th.
Guardiola said: “Definitely for all of us and for the club and I am incredibly proud. We are in the final of the Champions League. Those are nice words [to say]. Now we will start to enjoy it. We need one step to win the Premier League [by beating Chelsea at home on Saturday] and we have two or three weeks to prepare for the final.”
To become European champions Guardiola believes it may have to be written in the stars.
“Manchester United won the Champions League [in 2008 against Chelsea] because [John] Terry slipped [in the penalty shootout].
“United won in the last minute in the Camp Nou [against Bayern Munich] in the last minutes [in 1999]. The stars are involved in that. I think reaching the final of the Champions League has made a bigger picture of what we’ve done in [my] five years as manager.
“Reaching the final is so difficult, because of the quality of opponents, the suffering in toughest moments, we had an incredible season, winning 11 [of 12 games in the competition] so we deserve to be there.”
City fans had welcomed the team outside the stadium before the match and Guardiola praised them. “The club belongs to the people,” he said. “We are here for a period but the fans always stay. Next season the doors are open [after the pandemic lockdown is eased] and they have to support these players – what they have done is incredible in the toughest year.”
In the second half many PSG players lost their heads, with Ángel Di María sent off by the referee, Bjorn Kuipers, Marco Verratti being fortunate not to join him for some wild lunges, and Presnel Kimpembe hacking down Gabriel Jesus in a dangerous challenge. Di María’s red card followed that of his teammate Idrissa Gueye in last week’s first leg.
Guardiola was asked about PSG’s tempers fraying on Tuesday night. “They are huge competitors – they don’t give up [so] they fouled and fouled and that’s why they did it. Oleksandr [Zinchenko] has to improve as a red card and you are out,” said the manager of his left-back who was booked in the second half when angered by Leandro Paredes.
Mahrez said: “They lost their nerves and started kicking us and that was good, they had a red card and that made it more comfortable for us.”
Ander Herrera claimed Kuipers swore at Paredes. “We talk about respect with referees – the referee tonight said fuck off to Leandro Paredes. If we say that we get a three- or four-match ban,” the midfielder said.
Verratti also backed Herrera’s claim and Mauricio Pochettino, PSG’s coach, said: “We need to believe what they are telling us but the most important thing is we are not in the final. I didn’t hear from the touchline but if something is there, maybe Uefa will investigate the situation. It is not an excuse to use.” – Guardian