Guardiola on Manchester City’s first half performance: We were anxious

Pep Guardiola said his Manchester City side played “so anxiously” in the first half against RB Leipzig after coming from 2-0 down to win 3-2 and qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League. 

RB Leipzig striker Lois Openda left the Etihad in a state of silence after scoring two goals inside 40 minutes to leave his side one goal away from usurping City at the summit of the group. A raft of missed chances from the visitors indicated that the Bundesliga outfit were about to run away with it. 

However, City showed their dominance at home as Phil Foden set up Erling Haaland after the break before scoring the equaliser with 20 minutes to go. He also had a hand in the winner as Julian Alvarez finished off a flowing City move that involved close to 20 passes in the build-up. 

City were not at the races and looked leggy following their 1-1 draw with Liverpool at the weekend. However, they have secured top spot with a game to spare, while Leipzig have to settle for second in Group G. 

When asked about his side’s capitulation in the first half, Pep responded: ” What happened? That’s the Champions League. 

“Leipzig is always a team that qualifies for the last-16 the last five or six years. We conceded too much defensively. You have to win the duels and we didn’t do it. After that, we played so anxiously. 

“When you concede two goals you have to remain as relaxed as possible. But at the same time, we reacted really well in the second half.  

“With one game left, we are first in the group and I am very satisfied for the reaction. The team runs and fights and had a good spirit. 

“We changed with our press in the second half because it wasn’t effective. We didn’t expect them to play like that. 

Asked if he was worried by the first-half performance, he added: “It’s not easy. They played 5-4-1, the spaces were so small.  

“Rico [Lewis] was again exceptional and Phil [Foden] in the final third had decisive movements. I think Jeremy [Doku] changed our rhythm. Julian is a special player close to the box.” 

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