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City advances to Champions League QFs despite loss to Basel

AP  |  Manchester 

With their first home loss in 15 months, City ended up stumbling into the quarterfinals of the

Not that Pep Guardiola was particularly bothered about a surprise 2-1 home loss to


"This kind of positionis not going to happen in the quarterfinals, where you have a 4-0 (lead) from the first leg," the City 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 in the first leg three weeks ago made qualification almost a formality for a team that is 16 points clear in the and one of the favorites to win the

Guardiola fielded a virtual reserve side at for the return match, and making six changes from its previous game disrupted the fluency of the team's passing and pressing game.

City took the lead in the eighth minute through in his first start in 2018, but equalized in the 17th and regularly broke through the home side's midfield in the final hour of the game.

Wing back earned its latest victory over a giant by smashing a rising shot inside the near post through 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 in the in December 2016 came as a surprise.

And it was something to savor for Basel, the Swiss champion that has been a scourge of English powers with wins over United, Chelsea, and in European competition since 2011.

"We have a certain pride," Basel said, "and against a team that plays every three days and is beating everyone, it's very special."

City advanced 5-2 on aggregate and became the second English team through to the quarterfinals, after from Tuesday.

couldn't make it three, though, losing 2-1 to Juventus at as the Italian side clinched a 4-3 aggregate victory. and scored goals in the space of three minutes as Juventus came from behind following Son Heung-min's opener.

There are still chances for Premier League sides United and next week.

With qualification all but secured from the first leg, Guardiola played many of his fringe players -- like 34-year-old and a half his age, English prodigy -- and it showed at times.

According to Opta, City completed 978 passes -- the most recorded by a side in a match since began compiling stats in 2003-04. Many of those passes lacked penetration, though.

"To just pass for itself is nothing," Guardiola said. "The second half was really, really poor."

Jesus worked hard in his first start since a sustained on Dec. 31 but he was understandably rusty, the ball sometimes not sticking when it was played into him.

The striker was in the right place at the right time for his goal, though, tapping in from close range at the far post from Bernardo Silva's low, teasing cross. It was his first goal in his last 14 appearances.

It was from one of those regular breaks in behind Toure that Basel scored its equaliser, with Blas Riveros' cross deflecting off into the path of Elyounoussi, who drove home a shot from 10 meters.

Elyounoussi played a key role in the winning goal, slipping the ball through for Lang to fire home from an acute angle.

City is in quarterfinals for only the second time. "Maybe people will think the way we played today, we are not able to fight to go through," Guardiola said.

"We will see.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, March 08 2018. 11:10 IST
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