x

Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Pep Guardiola says Champions League ultimate test after Lyon draw

A Maxwell Cornet double put French side on course for another win on Group F before Sergio Aguero's late header made it 2-2 to secure Manchester City's place in last 16

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and Aymeric Laporte embrace after the 2-2 draw against Lyon. Reuters
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and Aymeric Laporte embrace after the 2-2 draw against Lyon. Reuters

Pep Guardiola says the Uefa Champions League poses a tougher challenge to his Manchester City than any other competition after needing a Sergio Aguero goal to salvage a 2-2 draw against Lyon on Tuesday.

The point sees City through to the last 16 of the competition for a sixth successive season. Lyon, who beat City at the Etihad Stadium on matchday 1, had looked well place to record a double over the English champions after Maxwell Cornet gave the French side the lead for a second time on 81 minutes after an Aymeric Laporte header had levelled proceedings.

It needed the intervention of Aguero two minutes later to ensure a share of the spoils as the Argentina striker headed in from a corner.

"Today the Champions League showed me again that it's another different competition and especially for one reason. The players are better," said Guardiola, whose side need a point from their final game at home to eliminated Hoffenheim to secure top spot in Group F.

"That's why every time we think about the Champions League and people say it's easy for Manchester City, they are really confused about this.

"Words are words. The people who say this never saw a game of Lyon, a game of Hoffenheim, or a game of Shakhtar."

______________

Read more:

Andy Mitten: Relief, but not much else to shout about as Manchester United reach Champions League last 16

In pictures: Cristiano Ronaldo hits 100 Champions League wins as Juventus soar into last 16

Santiago Solari happy to see Real Madrid move on from Eibar collapse

Richard Jolly: Tottenham looking to show 'anything is possible' in the Champions League

_____________

City set a Premier League record with 100 points as they strolled to the title last term, and are again setting the pace this season having scored 40 times in 13 matches while conceding only five.

"You have time in the Premier League, you have 38 games. Here you have 90 minutes, 180 minutes; you make mistakes and they punish you," Guardiola said.

Lyon already trail Paris Saint-Germain by 15 points in Ligue 1 after just 14 matches, but Bruno Genesio's side once again pushed City all the way having beaten them 2-1 in the reverse fixture in September.

"People say in France it's just PSG. But they don't know how tough it is in France. The league is so complicated, so good, so that's why I give a lot of credit for the result and the performance today," Guardiola said.

"I'm really impressed about the amount of good young talent here in France. Both [Lyon] holding midfielders [Houssem Aouar and Tanguy Ndombele] are exceptional.

"They're strong and they have vision. The people in front - [Memphis] Depay, [Nabil] Fekir ... it's a team that's well organised but that's typical in the Champions League.

"Now we can focus on the Premier League and other competitions and try to arrive in February with everyone fit and try to compete against the best 16 teams in Europe," he added.

Lyon need to avoid defeat at Shakhtar Donetsk in their final game to join City in the last 16 after the Ukrainians scored a stoppage-time winner to earn a 3-2 victory at Hoffenheim and keep their qualification hopes alive.

"I'm proud to see how my team performed tonight. They're one of the best teams in Europe," Genesio said. "But there's also a bit of frustration that we didn't qualify tonight. There wasn't much in it, here or in Hoffenheim."

Lyon looked on course for another impressive win over City when Cornet scored his second goal to put Lyon 2-1 up with nine minutes to play, only for Aguero to level just two minutes later.

"The players put in a display of very high quality. When we conceded the second goal I think we were still a bit euphoric and that's what allowed them to score," Genesio said.

His team will conclude their group stage against Shakhtar on December 12 in Kharkiv.

"I see it as a final for qualification, but we go into it full of confidence because we're still unbeaten despite a lot of draws."