Willy Caballero felt Manchester City had done their manager proud after reacting to their dismal Champions League exit with a bright performance against Liverpool.
Pep Guardiola had expected a response following last week’s surrender in Monaco and that came in a pulsating Premier League clash with one of their top-four rivals at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
It was still not enough for victory, with the teams playing out a fast-paced and incident-packed 1-1 draw, but Guardiola still saw enough to proclaim it as one of the best results of his career.
From a manager who twice won the Champions League with Barcelona that was some statement, and especially so as two points were dropped in the battle for top-four places.
But goalkeeper Caballero agreed City had shown character at a crucial stage in their season.
The Argentinian said: “The same that he said in the press conference he said to us. He was really proud.
“It was difficult to start this game, it was Liverpool, a massive game, but after a big defeat against Monaco when we suffered a lot after the elimination, we did it.
“We played very well – with spirit, with mentality, with everything. We left everything on the pitch and we had chances until the last minute.
“So, to be a coach and see your team play this way, it is going to be magnificent to see.”
City are still involved in the FA Cup but with their title challenge seemingly over, their prime objective is now qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
The draw left them third in the table still a point ahead of Liverpool, who have played a game more.
Caballero said: “This is our trophy now. We are fighting every single game to be in the four who qualify for the Champions League.
“After the way that we lost against Monaco, the most important thing for us is to be there the next year, in the Champions League again.
“We have to win the next game to be in those kind of positions and fight until the end because it is going to be a really difficult run. The rest of the teams are fighting a lot.”
Sunday’s encounter was a classic littered with talking points. Both sides spurned numerous chances and had two penalty appeals each rejected in the first half.
Liverpool were finally awarded a spot-kick after the break and former City player James Milner converted to give them the lead. City replied through Sergio Aguero and both teams will rue missed opportunities to win the game.
Adam Lallana miskicked in front of goal for Liverpool while Kevin De Bruyne hit the post and Aguero blazed over for City.
Caballero said: “To watch it was an amazing game but for us it was a shame, disappointing, because we needed to win.
“We needed those three points and unfortunately we couldn’t get them. I think the only very good thing is that we tried until the end, the very last minute and we couldn’t (score again).
“But Liverpool also had a lot of chances. They played very well again.”