Celtic vs Manchester City: Pep Guardiola believes Champions League group qualification will go down to the wire
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has warned that a 3-3 draw against Celtic must teach his players that Champions League opponents can “punish” them like “a machine”, as he predicted that the group stage may go to the last game.
Guardiola seemed hugely taken with the spirit and atmosphere of the club he called “Glasgow the Celtic”, whom he said had a history in Europe which City still lacked and had made winning difficult for “most prestigious teams in Europe.”
But he said that the game, in which City trailed after two minutes and went behind twice more, demonstrated the side must start games better and cut out errors.
“Maybe it is a good lesson for the future [about] how important it is to start well,” Guardiola said. “In Europe you can’t concede because they are a machine; they are there to punish you.”
The dropped points leave City two adrift of Barcelona, who came from behind to win at Borussia Monchengladbach and now have the Catalans to play twice. “When the fourth team in the pot was Celtic of Glasgow we knew how it would be. This group is [not] going to be [decided] until the last game with Celtic of Glasgow at home,” he said.
“Sometimes it happens in a season that you [go] behind. It’s not easy to recover one goal so imagine two, imagine three… It’s a shock when concede a goal in first two minutes. But this club was 25/26 years old without playing in Europe, from 1977 to 2011. That will be a good lesson. Europe is so special, the teams are so strong and Celtic is an amazing environment, we knew that but good lesson for future.”
Asked if the bouncing Celtic Park atmosphere was an example of what he wanted for the Etihad, where he has asked fans to forget their antipathy towards UEFA, Guardiola said: “Each club has its personality so what I want at Manchester City has to be what they are. Every club has their own history and personality and the way they handle the situation. I’m very pleased about what we have. Celtic has a huge history in Europe and we’re here to build up. Manchester City played in Europe a long time ago and then [Roberto] Mancini and Manuel [Pellegrini] built up. [In the] next years we have to try to build in that way.”
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers said that the extraordinary atmosphere had delivered noise the kind of which he had not experienced in his football career.
“It’s a noise I’ve never heard before,” he said. “When you come here you realise how many players around the world talk about the atmosphere here. They really helped us to produce the performance we did.”
But it was the strategic capacity of his side to press City – in the process bringing to an end their run of ten consecutive wins under Guardiola – which he said had been the key.
“For us it was about tactically setting up and pressing,” Rodgers said. “It has to be an educated pressure because if not they will run through you. One of our goals to go over top of the press. There were many examples of counter pressing. That’s example of working collectively very hard together.
Celtic vs Manchester City player ratings
Craig Gordon: 7 out of 10
Couldn’t do anything about any of the goals but cleared the ball well into the channels and made some important saves.
Mikael Lustig – 7 out of 10
Couldn’t afford to lose concentration once as City swamped forward.
Kolo Toure – 8 out of 10
Backs against the wall defending all night with City looking dangerous every time they got near Celtic’s box but was immense.
Erik Sviatchenko – 7 out of 10
Like Toure he had to chase Aguero all night and did well to keep him quiet in the first half despite all the chaos around him.
Kieran Tierney – 7 out of 10
Did brilliantly to maraud forward for Celtic’s second and showed a huge amount of desire. The goal may have be taken off him but it didn’t deserve to be.
Scott Brown – 8 out of 10
A typical Brown performance – full-hearted and left nothing on the pitch as he never stopped running.
Nir Bitton – 7 out of 10
Did a great job breaking up play and shielding the defence against the ever-moving City forwards.
James Forrest – 6 out of 10
His clever late run and cushioned volley cross to Dembele set Celtic on their way after only two minutes.
Tom Rogic – 6 out of 10
Rogic was fantastic in the first half and won the midfield battle against City’s superstars but tired and his influenced waned before he was replaced after 57 minutes.
Scott Sinclair – 8 out of 10
Looked like a man on a mission in the early stages against his old club but appeared to tire as the game wore on.
Moussa Dembele – 9 out of 10
Worked tirelessly up front and made up for his mistake for City’s second with two goals of his own.
Claudio Bravo – 6 out of 10
Look nervous at the start but made a fine stop from Toure after five minutes to stop Celtic going two ahead.
Pablo Zabaleta – 6 out of 10
Exposed for Celtic’s second goal, leaving Tierney in too much space.
Nicolas Otamendi – 6 out of 10
Strong in the air and did well to keep up with the pace of Dembele and Sinclair.
Aleksandar Kolarov – 4 out of 10
Not as impressive at centre-half as he has been previously as he struggled with Celtic’s attack. Dreadful air-kick to gift Celtic their third.
Gael Clichy – 6 out of 10
Lost in the pace of the game initially but grew into it as the match progressed.
Fernandinho – 7 out of 10
Did his usual shift of winning the ball and launching attacks. Scored a vital goal to equalise the first time City looked dangerous.
Ilkay Gundogan – 7 out of 10
Not at the high standard he set in his first Champions League game for City but still came close on a couple of occasions and even rattled the crossbar.
David Silva – 8 out of 10
He was the main creator with De Bruyne out and his slick passing and movement was a constant threat to Celtic.
Raheem Sterling – 8 out of 10
Continued his amazing start to the season with a beautifully taken goal. Also had the own goal against his name but showed good work-rate just to track back.
Nolito – 7 out of 10
Had a couple of efforts from the left hand side but nothing too threatening until he followed up well to grab City’s third equaliser.
Sergio Aguero – 5 out of 10
An unusually quiet night for Aguero, especially considering there were six goals scored in total at Celtic Park.
“Tactically if you not organised against this team, like we’ve seen in the Premier League they can really hurt you but that was a big, big game from us. We’re happy with point. It’s a big step forward for us.”
Rodgers said of Dembele: “We’re very lucky to have him. He was coveted by lot of teams but his agent is a clever guy. Does he go to so called better league as such and maybe not play as much? Or does he come here and develop for two or three years? He really bullied their back four but more than that [showed] a wonderful touch, power, pace agility.
“We put down a marker. Manchester City have travelled round the Premier League and absolutely destroyed teams, and that’s why this was going to be a very difficult game for us but tonight showed this is a huge club.
“It’s one of the biggest clubs in the world. It just doesn’t have the platform of the Premier League. To come and virtually out-press Manchester City, [the players] deserve the respect for that.”