Guardiola refuses to let refereeing frustrations overshadow Liverpool praise as Manchester City crash out of Europe

The Catalan boss was magnanimous in defeat as his Manchester City side lost out to Liverpool in the Champions League quarter finals.

Guardiola refuses to let refereeing frustrations overshadow Liverpool praise as Manchester City crash out of Europe
Guardiola had praise for Liverpool, not so much for the referee (photo: Getty Images / Shaun Botterill)

Pep Guardiola refused to let his disappointment with the officiating get in the way of praising Liverpool, as the Reds beat Manchester City 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.

Jurgen Klopp's men finished their job of progressing to the Champions League semi final's in style, going through 5-1 on aggregate having thrashed City 3-0 at Anfield last week.

Guardiola, who was sent off from the touchline during a half-time conversation with the referee, refused to let any refereeing controversy get in the way of him praising his opponents.

"Big congratulations to Liverpool," said Guardiola. "They are a top team with a top manager. Hopefully they can represent England well in the semi-final."

Going on to be asked whether going out will be a regret because many considered City favourites to go through, Guardiola was clear that it was never expected to be easy.

“We play against Liverpool, look at Barcelona today. The competition is so special and we knew immediately when the draw was made, there is Anfield and the Champions League- they've won it five times, all the [Liverpool] fans believe ‘this is our competition’.

"We were beaten by an excellent team."

Refereeing frustrations

Despite being open to admitting Liverpool's progression was deserved, Guardiola clearly felt that his side didn't get a fair rub of the green with officiating decision's. 

Having had a goal controversially ruled out at Anfield last week, Leroy Sane was aghast when he was flagged offside after putting the ball in the net at 1-0, despite Liverpool midfielder James Milner appearing to have got the last touch.

Guardiola was sent to the stands at half-time for remonstrating with referee Antonio Lahoz, saying "I said it was a goal" when asked why he'd been banished from the technical area.

“I didn’t insult him, I just said it was a penalty," said Guardiola.

"To go half-time 2-0 against that team [Liverpool] is different. In this kind of competition the impact is so big, it’s a penalty for Sterling on Robertson, Gabriel Jesus should have a goal at Anfield."

​No worry about City's form

The Citizens have now lost three games in a row, leading some to question whether their expected title winning season will be looked back upon with a little sourness after the past week.

During 11 months you will go up and down," explained Guardiola.

"Today I was with my chairman and I saw the players and their body language, the spirit with which they try to play in these situations. Do you ever see one team over 11 months who play with the same pace?

We lost against Liverpool, United and Liverpool. You have to analyse what we have done in 11 months, I think it’s quite good," he concluded.