Man City lose but advance to last eight
MANCHESTER, England (AP):
With their first home loss in 15 months, Manchester City ended up stumbling into the quarterfinals of the Champions League yesterday.
Not that Pep Guardiola was particularly bothered about a surprise 2-1 home loss to Basel.
"This kind of position is not going to happen in the quarterfinals, where you have a 4-0 (lead) from the first leg," the City coach said. "When it's scary to be (knocked) out, the rhythm will be completely different."
Indeed, it was difficult to draw too many conclusions from what was only City's fourth loss of the season in all competitions.
A 4-0 win in Switzerland in the first leg three weeks ago made qualification almost a formality for a team that is 16 points clear in the Premier League and one of the favourites to win the Champions League.
Guardiola fielded a virtual reserve side at Etihad Stadium for the return match, and making six changes from their previous game disrupted the fluency of the team's passing and pressing game.
City took the lead in the eighth minute through Gabriel Jesus in his first start in 2018, but Mohamed Elyounoussi equalised in the 17th and Basel regularly broke through the home side's midfield in the final hour of the game.
Wing back Michael Lang earned Basel their latest victory over a Premier League giant by smashing a rising shot inside the near post through goalkeeper Claudio Bravo's attempted save in the 71st.
"You will find in all the clubs in the world," Guardiola said, "that when you make six changes, the team is not the same."
Still, City's first home loss since a 3-1 defeat to Chelsea in the Premier League in December 2016 came as a surprise.