Shakhtar Donetsk 2-1 Manchester City Match Report
The Manchester city boss was waiting to see how his players would react to defeat. Now he will find out in the Manchester derby.
It has taken 29 games and seven-and-a-half months, but the Premier League leaders finally lost on a freezing night in Ukraine.
Manchester City’s imperious run at home and abroad came to an end here in the Metalist Stadium at the hands of Shakhtar Donetsk and a Brazilian contingent led by the gifted Taison who ripped them to shreds before half-time.
A first defeat since the FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal on April 23 was not a total surprise in what was essentially a dead rubber for City.
They had already qualified for the knockout stage as winners of Group F, and Guardiola rested players to avoid unnecessary injuries ahead of Sunday’s trip to Old Trafford against a very capable Shakhtar side still fighting for their Champions League lives. Teenager Phil Foden was handed his full first-team debut and played out of position at left wing-back. Tosin Adarabioyo made his second Champions League start in an unfamiliar back-three and an equally unfamiliar line-up.
But the manner of the defeat will concern Guardiola who will not have enjoyed seeing his team so comprehensively outplayed for 45 minutes.
So too will the fact that it precedes such an important game against United following three unconvincing Premier League wins over Huddersfield, Southampton and West Ham.
Will this result knock City out of their stride? It’s unlikely. But Jose Mourinho will be relishing the opportunity to test their mettle.
Guardiola stood solemnly on the touchline on Wednesday night, his breath visible in the cold air as he screamed instructions, but to little avail.
City were two down by half-time and well on the way to a rare defeat after winning 21 of their 22 games this season. Sergio Aguero’s late penalty mattered little.
By doing so, they failed to become only the sixth club in Champions League history to finish the group stage with a 100 per cent record. Not even Guardiola’s great Barcelona side, Lionel Messi and all, managed that.
Afterwards, the City boss claimed it might actually be a good thing for the club in the long run.
‘It hurts,’ said Guardiola. ‘It’s never nice to lose.
‘But we needed to lose a game. It will be good for the club, for all of us. People say things when you win a lot and you can forget that now.
‘We came here when our job was done. We tried. People cannot say we didn’t come to try to win the game.