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Pep Guardiola relieved to lead Manchester City to Champions League semi-finals

Guardiola relieved to lead Man City to CL semi-finals
© Reuters
The Premier League leaders have reached the last four for the first time since the Spaniard took charge.

Pep Guardiola felt Manchester City had cleared a psychological hurdle after reaching the Champions League semi-finals for the first time since he took charge.

City overcame a scare to see off Borussia Dortmund in their quarter-final, coming from behind to win the second leg 2-1 in Germany and prevail 4-2 on aggregate.

The result ended City’s run of three successive defeats at the last-eight stage and took Guardiola into the last four for the first time in five attempts with the club.

The City boss said: “For the club it is so important, we cannot deny it.

“This competition is tough. You work for 10 months and you are judged for one game. You go out and your season is judged a failure, a disaster club. This is not fair. We cannot judge what these guys have done in four or five years.

“But saying that, psychologically, for all of us – the players, myself, the backroom staff, my chairman, CEO, to pass this moment of the quarter-finals to get to the semi-finals was necessary.

“Now, of course, we want more.”

Phil Foden put the seal on City's win with their second goal
Phil Foden put the seal on City’s win with their second goal (PA Wire via DPA)

City will now play last year’s runners-up, Paris St Germain, for a place in the final.

Guardiola said: “We are going to prepare for PSG. We know how tough they are. They knocked out Bayern Munich, the best team in the world right now.

“We will see how we arrive but for us, the players and the club, it is a good moment for all of us.”

City fell behind on the night to an early goal from Jude Bellingham but responded with a penalty from Riyad Mahrez and a fine strike from the impressive Phil Foden, who also scored in the first leg.

Guardiola said: “The first 15 minutes they were better. After the goal, the last 30 minutes of the first half we had an incredible two or three chances to score a goal.

“In the second half we found the goals and we played good. We created enough chances to win and finally we are in the semi-finals for the second time in our club’s history. Now are going to celebrate it and then think about Chelsea in three days.”

City kept the highly-rated Erling Haaland quiet in both legs of the tie.

Erling Haaland was unable to score in either leg against City
Erling Haaland was unable to score in either leg against City (Nick Potts/PA)

Guardiola said: “I would say this player is almost unstoppable and the best way to defend against these talented players is to not let them have the ball. They want the ball, they need the ball, so don’t (let them) have it.”

Dortmund’s interim coach Edin Terzic congratulated City on their win but felt his side could feel aggrieved by two notable refereeing decisions over the tie.

The Bundesliga side controversially had a goal disallowed at the Etihad Stadium and Terzic felt the penalty awarded against them in the return for handball against Emre Can was harsh.

Terzic said: “We are not happy with the decisions the referee took over the last eight days in both games. We don’t understand why they don’t use the screen if it is there to help.

“But this was one piece of the games, Man City deserved to go through to the next round.”

Jude Bellingham was the key player for Dortmund
Jude Bellingham was the key player for Dortmund (PA Wire via DPA)

One aspect of which he could be proud was the performance of 17-year-old England international Bellingham, who shone in both games.

Terzic said: “The only thing we don’t know about Jude is his limit. He has so much potential and talent.

“He is a great boy who wants to improve. We need to find out what is his limit and try to push him towards this limit. Tonight the whole world saw what he is capable of.”

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