Pep Guardiola rued Manchester City’s missed chances as they beat Real Madrid 4-3, but squandered the opportunity to kill off the Spanish side in a “fantastic” Champions League semi-final on Tuesday.
Guardiola’s team should have left Real dead and buried in the first leg at the Etihad Stadium as they held a two-goal lead three times, only to allow the La Liga leaders back into the tie on each occasion.
City were two up after just 11 minutes and also led 3-1 and 4-2, but Real refused to surrender in one of the Champions League’s greatest games.
Karim Benzema’s second goal of the night, a nerveless ‘Panenka’ penalty in the 82nd minute, was the perfect climax to an astonishing game, ensuring Real returned home still in with a chance of reaching the final.
While Guardiola was happy to praise both sides for producing a classic, the City boss was more concerned with the way his men failed to get full reward for their dynamic display.
“It was a fantastic game for both sides. We did many good things. Unfortunately we conceded goals and we could not score more,” Guardiola told BT Sport.
“What we have done with the ball and without the ball, creating chances and chances and chances I can’t ask anything else.
“We played a fantastic game against an incredible team. The moments where they rise and come back into the game in the first half I think we gave them as our build-up was so nervous.
“Normally we are so safe and so good. Also they press really good and strong. The quality of Real Madrid is such they can punish you.”
City’s failure to deliver the knockout blow could yet prove decisive in the second leg in Madrid on May 4.
Real have already eliminated Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea in the knockout stages this season, after looking down and out at various stages of both ties.
Although they have only a slender lead to protect at the Bernabeu, Guardiola said City would not use a defensive gameplan and vowed to go for the win.
“Football is a fantastic spectacle. Congratulations to Carlo and his team as they are so good. At the same time, we saw ourselves that we can be there,” he said.
“All we can do is perform as we perform. All around the world and for Manchester City, we are so proud.
“But it is about reaching the final and sometimes football happens. We go to Madrid to try to win the game.”