Pep Guardiola acknowledged that his Manchester City players were not “at their best” as they were knocked out of the Champions League by Real Madrid.
City won 4-3 in the home leg last week at the Etihad. That thrilling tie afforded the English side a slight edge.
Guardiola’s men looked set for the Champions League final when Riyad Mahrez scored in the 73rd minute to make it 5-3 to them on aggregate. His fierce effort from inside the penalty area flew into the top corner.
Substitute Rodrygo pulled a goal back for Real Madrid in the 90th minute. He scored from close range after Karim Benzema put the ball on a plate for him.
The Brazilian scored again moments later as his header got the better of Ederson. The tie was 5-5 on aggregate at the final whistle so it went into extra-time.
With Man City shaken, Real were awarded a penalty at the start of extra-time. The referee pointed to the spot when Ruben Dias brought down Benzema.
The in-form striker stepped up to take the spot-kick himself. He calmly found the net to give Real Madrid the lead for the first time in the tie.
The Spanish giants hung on to win 6-5 on aggregate. This result denies Man City their second straight Champions League final.
Not our night.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) May 4, 2022
Speaking after the loss, Guardiola was quick to encourage his players to “process” their European exit:
“We were close. We were close. But in the end, we could not reach it,” Guardiola admitted (quotes via BBC Sport).
“It is simple. In the first-half we did not have the game, we were not good enough. But we did not suffer much. After we scored the goal we were better. We found out our tempo and our game and the players were comfortable.
“It is not like in the last 10 minutes they attack and attack and you suffer. It didn’t happen. They put a lot of players in the box, with Militao, Rodrygo, Vinicius, Benzema and they put in crosses and scored two goals.
“We didn’t play our best, but it is normal, a semi-final, the players feel the pressure and want to do it. Football is unpredictable, it is a game like this. We have to accept it.
“Now we need to process that and come back, with our people at home and the last four games we have.”