Football

Guardiola looks to League Cup after Wigan upset

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola refused to blame his players after the runaway English Premier league leaders, reduced to 10 men at half-time, were knocked out of the FA Cup by third-tier Wigan Athletic.

Yesterday morning's (Singapore time) 1-0 fifth-round defeat at the DW Stadium, a repeat of the scoreline in the 2013 FA Cup final won by Wigan when the Latics were in the top tier, ended City's hopes of an unprecedented league and cup Quadruple this season.

"Congratulations to Wigan for the qualification," Guardiola told BBC radio.

"We did absolutely everything, we made a mistake and this kind of game is like a final. Okay, we accept the defeat.

"Wigan won, congratulations to them and now we rest for the League Cup final."

Man City defender John Stones added: "We've got to look at the other three competitions and look forward, but we're disappointed.

"We wanted to be in all four competitions right until the end. That's been cut short now. We'll take time to reflect on tonight and look forward to the final on the weekend."

Man City play Arsenal in the final of that competition at Wembley on Monday morning.

The overwhelming favourites against opponents fighting for promotion from League One, City were always wary of Wigan's proud reputation as a "bogey team" in the world's oldest and most romantic domestic cup competition.

Apart from beating them in the 2013 final, Wigan had also dumped them out at the quarter-final stage of the competition at the Etihad Stadium a season later.

City started with their Argentine top scorer Sergio Aguero, and had Belgian midfielder Kevin de Bruyne waiting on the bench, but neither were able to make the most of their side's dominant possession.

In the end, the match turned on the sending-off of Fabian Delph on the stroke of half-time with the City left back shown a red card for a sliding tackle as teammates crowded around the referee in protest.

Wigan's prolific goalscorer Will Grigg then fired in a 79th-minute winner.

Despite his obvious anger at the time, Guardiola steered clear of criticism of the official after the final whistle.

"Red card. It was the decision," he said.

"They had one shot on target, I don't have regrets with the way we played, the performance, the heart. I judge my players on intentions and not results, and the intentions were good." - AFP, REUTERS

Football