Guardiola laments 'cruel' Champions League exit, still in favour of VAR

Despite the painful end to Manchester City's attempt to win all four major trophies this season, Pep Guardiola insisted that he was proud of the effort put in by his team and the supporters.

No side has been knocked out at the Champions League quarterfinal stage by English teams on more occasions than Manchester City.   -  REUTERS

Pep Guardiola bemoaned VAR's failure to rule out Fernando Llorente's decisive goal for Tottenham as Manchester City's quadruple bid was shattered by a “cruel” Champions League quarterfinal exit on Wednesday.

Guardiola's side was closing in on a place in the semifinals after staging a thrilling comeback to lead 4-2 in the second leg at the Etihad Stadium.

But Tottenham striker Fernando Llorente bundled home in the 73rd minute via a combination of his arm and hip, with VAR allowing the goal on review despite City's appeals for handball.

Guardiola could be seen gesturing for handball while the VAR check was made, but his protest was in vain.

Adding to the City manager's frustration, Raheem Sterling appeared to have scored what would have been the winner in the final seconds of stoppage-time, only for the goal to be ruled out by VAR for offside against Sergio Aguero.

 

“I support VAR but maybe from one angle Fernando Llorente's goal is handball, maybe from the referee's angle it is not,” Guardiola said.

“I watched the action and the people from above decided it (City's disallowed goal) was offside. In the moment we celebrated and we were so close to the semifinals. It is cruel but it is what it is and we have to accept it.

Despite the painful end to City's attempt to win all four major trophies this season, Guardiola insisted he was proud of the effort put in by his team and the supporters.

“We missed a penalty in the first leg but I am so proud of the players and the fans,” he said. “I have never heard noise like that since I have been in Manchester, but football is unpredictable.”

 

City now has to focus on retaining the title, with Tottenham its next opponent in the Premier League on Saturday.

“We have a lot of games from the league and FA Cup final. Today is tough and tomorrow will be tough too but the day after we will be ready,” Guardiola said.

'Cruel' exit will not change Guardiola's support of VAR

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola insisted VAR does produce “fair football” despite his team exiting Champions League due to VAR.

“I support VAR. It's just to see the goal from Llorente is handball. From one angle looks like handball, from the angle the referee saw it doesn't,” said Guardiola.

“I'm fine for the fair football, for the fair decisions. If it's offside, it's offside. In the future, even the present, it will be fair.”

Elimination ended City's quest for a quadruple and Guardiola lamented a series of costly errors across both games, after Aguero also missed a penalty in the first leg, that saw his side bow out to a side 16 points behind them in the Premier League.

“It's tough. We were close to go through, it's cruel, but we have to accept it,” added Guardiola. “The mistakes in this competition punish you a lot. Unfortunately it was a bad end for us.”

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