Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has claimed he has ‘nothing to say’ about the ugly scenes that marred his side’s Champions League triumph over Atletico Madrid.
ity clinched a hard-fought draw at the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday and reached the semi-finals 1-0 on aggregate, but the game ended in resentment and bitterness with scuffles on the field and in the tunnel.
First, a scuffle broke out on the field involving numerous players from both sides after Felipe kicked Phil Foden.
Amidst the trouble, Atletico defender Stefan Savic pulled unused City substitute Jack Grealish’s hair after the pair exchanged words. Felipe was sent off for his involvement.
The problems continued after the teams left the field and the players had to be separated in the tunnel. TV footage showed objects being thrown and police were reportedly called in to restore order.
When asked about the incidents at his post-match press conference, Guardiola simply said he had “nothing to say”.
Pressured further with a head injury sustained by Foden in another poor first-half tackle from Felipe, Guardiola said: “I’m not talking about referees or the opponents either.”
There was also an indication that Guardiola had thrown liquid at him as he headed towards the tunnel.
He said: “Everyone saw the action but I have nothing to say.”
Guardiola preferred to focus on his players’ determined effort to secure a result amid fierce provocation and an intimidating atmosphere.
“They pushed us very hard,” said Guardiola. “Atletico were excellent in the second half and we forgot to play. We were in big trouble and they had chances to score.
“We had one or two clear chances in the first half, but they were much better in the second half of the second leg. But at the same time we defended with everything.
“We had to adapt. We couldn’t have the ball and we felt the pressure. We’re in the semi-finals and it’s an incredible achievement for our club.”
BT Sport pundits were less reticent as Rio Ferdinand called both Felipe and Savic ’embarrassing’ over their behaviour.
Owen Hargreaves and Joleon Lescott both expressed surprise that VAR hadn’t alerted the referee to Savic’s close-range actions.
“It’s not hard to see that when it’s your only job to see that,” Lescott said. “He headbutted someone, he pulled someone’s hair. Not in 90 minutes, but in 90 seconds.
“I don’t see what VAR is there for if not to rectify that decision.”
Hargreaves added: “Savic is delighted with the yellow card. He thinks, “I’ll take that.” I think the City players’ emotional control through all the chaos was brilliant.”
Ferdinand said: “You have to commend the way City have handled this situation. It’s difficult in moments like this.
“Forget the crowds, those moments where you’re trying to finish and you’re upset you’ve got someone in front of you poking, poking, poking you all the time. They managed to get away without anyone interfering too much.
“We heard something after the game, but the game ended then. Especially for Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling – Phil is a little boy and it’s a good experience for him in a way.”
Hargreaves credited Guardiola for the composure displayed by City’s players.
“I think that’s coming from Pep,” he said. “I think if it wasn’t Pep managing them someone would have snapped but I’m sure he told them we can’t afford to get a red card. All of these players behaved.
“I think if it had been someone on one of our teams they would have bit back but Pep told them all the fine details.”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/champions-league/nothing-to-say-pep-guardiola-remains-tight-lipped-after-tunnel-melee-mars-win-at-atletico-madrid-41551997.html ‘Nothing to say’ – Pep Guardiola remains taciturn after winning tunnel melee Mars at Atletico Madrid