Football

Guardiola: 1-0 defeat in first leg better than 0-0 stalemate

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola insisted that their 1-0 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final was better than a 0-0 draw.

Sergio Aguero missed a first-half penalty after Danny Rose was harshly adjudged by VAR to have used his arm to block Raheem Sterling's shot.

Despite plenty of incursions deep into Tottenham territory, City managed only two shots on target as an attack that put 10 goals past Schalke in the last round misfired.

Spurs forward Son Heung Min hit the sucker punch in the 78th minute to condemn City to their first defeat since losing 2-1 to Newcastle United on Jan 29.

Guardiola sent on Kevin de Bruyne and Leroy Sane in the 89th minute, but Spurs survived six minutes of stoppage time to leave City with a deficit ahead of next week's return leg at the Etihad.

"Sometimes, 1-0 is better than 0-0, as you know exactly what you have to do," said Guardiola, whose side lost 5-1 on aggregate to Liverpool in last season's quarter-finals after a 3-0 first-leg defeat. "We have to go out to score goals."

Guardiola defended his decision to start with de Bruyne and Sane on the bench, saying that he wanted two holding midfielders in Ilkay Guendogan and Fernandinho, reported AFP.

There was a sense of deja vu about that move as he played the same two midfielders with disastrous consequences when City lost 3-0 at this stage last year.

Several pundits questioned his decision, especially after de Bruyne's Man-of-the-Match showing in their 2-0 win over Cardiff City last week.

"Guardiola seemed to put the handbrake on a little with the starting line-up he selected and the system he deployed," former Arsenal defender Martin Keown told the Daily Mail.

"This was one of the first times we've seen Guardiola adopt a more defensive strategy for a big match, and I feel it was linked to that loss at Anfield."

But Guardiola insisted that they played decently, saying: "Except for a few chances we conceded in set-pieces and some counter-attacks, we controlled the game and played quite well."

The Quadruple remains possible but City will have to keep alive their European hopes the hard way - having not overturned a tie in which they have lost an away first leg since 1971.

Football