Pep Guardiola said it would be an "incredible mistake" to criticise his Manchester City players after they played "really well" in a 2-0 Premier League defeat at Tottenham.

Champion City remains a mammoth 22 points behind runaway leader Liverpool after second-half goals from Steven Bergwijn and Son Heung-min boosted Spurs' bid for a top-four finish.

Oleksandr Zinchenko was sent off for a second bookable offence before debutant Bergwijn opened the scoring at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Ilkay Gundogan had a first-half penalty saved by Hugo Lloris as misfiring City fired another blank four days after a 1-0 derby defeat to Manchester United in the second leg of its EFL Cup semifinal.

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Guardiola kept his players in the dressing room longer than usual after their loss in North London, but the City boss revealed he had been talking to his staff and wife rather than reading the riot act.

"On this performance, how should I be critical?" The Spaniard, who was unable to give a diagnosis of an injury sustained by Raheem Sterling, told Sky Sports . "On this performance it would be an incredible mistake to say how bad they are.

"We created chances and conceded few. I always feel good football is when you create more chances than the opposite team. I always believe in this concept, you are close to winning the games."

The former Barcelona coach added: "We played good but lost the game. It happened again. They had two shots and scored two goals. I don't have too many things to say about the performance.

"It happened before, against United. They created I don't know how many chances, only a few, we had a lot and didn't score. We have to accept it and analyse it, sometimes it is not easy. We did really well, honestly."

Guardiola pointed to the dismissal of Zinchenko as being a pivotal moment.

"The sending off was a key point, having 10 and 11 is completely different. We said at half-time be careful."

-Liverpool unstoppable-

"They are far away so they are unstoppable. They have a lot of points, we have dropped points quite similar to today,"Guardiola said of Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool, which is 22 points clear of his side at the summit

"Our targets are to win the remaining competitions and qualify for the Champions League next season."

Guardiola also suggested Premier League chiefs should express the same concern over Liverpool's dominance that Richard Scudamore did about City while he was executive chairman.

He added: “The last two seasons, it was an owner from the Premier League that says that can't happen again.

"City winning the titles that way with 100 points is not good for the Premier League, now it's Liverpool, the owner has to be concerned again."