Pep Guardiola praised Man City academy graduate CJ Egan-Riley after his Champions League debut against Sporting, and provided an update on Fernandinho’s future.
City went through to the quarter-finals of Europe’s elite club competition thanks to a 0-0 draw in the round of 16 second leg (you can check out our Player Ratings here). They already had one foot in the last eight after thrashing Sporting 5-0 in Lisbon.
City should have taken the lead in the first half when Phil Foden sent Raheem Sterling through with a brilliant pass. The winger attempted to chip Antonio Adan but the Sporting goalkeeper was equal to it.
Gabriel Jesus thought he had bagged his seventh goal of the season with 47 minutes gone. He finished at the near post following some great work from Riyad Mahrez, only for it to be ruled out due to an offside in the build up.
Sporting grew in confidence and showed some threat after Marcus Edwards came off the bench. They almost found a consolation goal in the 76th minute, only to be kept out by substitute keeper Scott Carson.
During a post-match interview with BT Sport (via BBC Sport), Guardiola said: “I am very pleased because in both games we deserved to be in the Champions League quarter-finals.”
The Spaniard gave teenager Egan-Riley his first European start at right-back amid Kyle Walker’s suspension.
Egan-Riley ‘played really good’ – Pep Guardiola
“Egan-Riley played really good and didn’t miss one ball,” Guardiola said. “He is a seven. He is nothing exceptional in anything but that is a good sign as a defender as he doesn’t make mistakes. Scott Carson could play and we gave 45 minutes to the other guys.”
Fernandinho, who is out of contract this summer, was impressive on his 100th UCL appearance. Guardiola provided an update on the midfielder’s future.
“We will see until the end of the season,” he said. “We still have two or three months so we will sit with him and see what is the best decision for the club and for him.”
City are among the favourites to lift the trophy, having reached the final last time around. On their expectations in the competition, Guardiola continued: “It’s a good sign. The people didn’t care what we were and now step-by-step the club grew and now for many years we are there in this competitions.
“Now we are again in the quarter-finals as the best eight teams in Europe. I learn to enjoy the moments. I celebrate it because I know how difficult it is. When you go through every opponent is difficult.
“Now it’s time to congratulate everyone, focus on the Premier League then next week we will see the draw.”
Fernandinho reacts to stalemate
City skipper Fernandinho told BT Sport after the match: “It’s important to keep playing good especially after we played against Manchester United. Everyone wants to keep going in that direction.
“We played the same way we always play. The second half we scored but it was offside and they had more chances. But that’s football, sometimes you don’t get lucky.”
Fernandinho was also asked about the young players coming through. “It just shows the great work Manchester City have been doing with the academy,” he said. “They have been training with us and know the way to play. They felt really comfortable playing with us. I’m really happy for them tonight. I hope they can play more often for Manchester City.
“I am happy to play tonight and I hope I can get more minutes.”