Kevin De Bruyne hailed Manchester City’s character after they fought back from a goal down to beat Real Madrid 2-1 at the Bernabeu and put themselves in pole position to claim a quarter-final spot.
Real captain Sergio Ramos was sent off in the closing stages for bringing down Jesus as the hosts struggled to cope with City’s attacking play.
De Bruyne told BT Sport: “It’s a very good start for the first game. The first 15 minutes we struggled for a bit but you have to go through the storm.
“It was a pretty even first half and we started the second half pretty well. The (Real) goal came at a bit of a bad moment for us because I think we were dominating at the time.
“I thought our response was brilliant. It was a beautiful goal from Gabi and the second goal, the penalty was very important for us.”
Pep Guardiola raised a few eyebrows with his selection as Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling were named on the bench.
On the starting line-up, De Bruyne added: “It was a very good start for us (for the tie).
“I think, the four years we’re here with Pep, there are some surprises (within the squad), and even the players, they don’t know before the game starts what they need to do.
“Some (changes) were good. I think we had some lesser moments. In a quality game like this, you’re going to struggle sometimes, but I thought we really fought really well together.”
Guardiola also selected Jesus in a wide left role with the most advanced players being De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva, who operated as twin false nines.
On his tactics, Guardiola said: “(It worked) because we won – it doesn’t count in that way. The important thing is the way we played, so we came here to try to win the game and we did it in this stadium. For the first part, it’s three points.
“If one team can overcome the situation for experience, for everything is this club, but of course a good result.
“We couldn’t score goals the previous two times away so we did it – it’s a good one.”
Guardiola admitted he was proud of the win but knows there is a long way to go yet with Sunday’s Carabao Cup final on the horizon.
He added: “I’m so proud of course. We’ll enjoy the moment, it’s just the first step – we have another game, it’s not over.
“We will enjoy it of course, will enjoy the moment with a good dinner and on Sunday, we have a final.
“We’ll keep going in the Premier League and then prepare for the second game against Madrid.
“I would say, we were (playing) better when we conceded the goal that we shouldn’t have conceded and when they were better, we scored a goal. That’s football.
“We have to improve so we can’t give them the goal we conceded. Maybe in the future we will grow.”