Man City issued haunting Premier League title warning after Real Madrid meltdown
Guardiola reflects on 'tough' Champions League exit for Man City
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Manchester City’s nightmare Champions League exit to Real Madrid could haunt Pep Guardiola’s players for the ‘rest of their lives’. That is the view of former Aston Villa and Chelsea striker Tony Cascarino, who admits he still has recurring dreams of ‘old matches that went wrong’.
Guardiola’s Premier League leaders were minutes away from the complete away performance to book their place in the showpiece Paris final and renew acquaintances with title rivals Liverpool. City had edged a seven-goal thriller in the first leg, and Riyad Mahrez’s strike had opened up a two-goal cushion heading into injury time.
However, an 108-second brace from substitute Rodrygo stunned the visitors and sent the tie into extra time. Five minutes after the restart, Ruben Dias fouled Karim Benzema in the box and the in-form striker duly dispatched the winner to send City crashing out of the competition.
The latest semi-final exit means Guardiola now sits level with Jose Mourinho as the manager with the most defeats in the final four of the Champions League. It is the sixth time the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss has lost at this stage, and the two-time winner has not triumphed in the competition since 2011.
It follows on from City’s defeat to Chelsea in last season’s final, and means Guardiola’s quest to bring Europe’s biggest prize to the Etihad Stadium goes on. The reigning Premier League champions have exited the competition in disappointing circumstances in recent seasons, but Cascarino fears the manner of the latest loss could haunt the players for decades to come.
He told The Times: “Real Madrid’s Champions League semi-final comeback on Wednesday night will sit with some Manchester City players for the rest of their lives. They may replay certain moments over and over again in their head, thinking what they could have done differently to change the outcome; others could relive it in their dreams.
“I’ve woken up from dreams where I was going over old matches that went wrong, even 30 years after they happened. One in particular sticks out — the stakes weren’t as high as they were for City last night, but it is my most common recurring dream.”
City could yet finish the season without a trophy, having been in contention for the treble a matter of weeks ago. Guardiola’s side must bounce back from the Bernabeu defeat when they face Newcastle on Sunday, aiming to extend their one-point lead over Liverpool in the Premier League title race.
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