Pep Guardiola was happy with a point despite his Man City side missing a late penalty against Liverpool at Anfield.
City’s Riyad Mahrez missed a late penalty as the much-hyped clash between the Premier League champions and the side thought most likely to challenge them this season ended in a disappointing goalless draw.
The game did not live up to expectations but, after suffering two chastening defeats at the same venue last season, Guardiola opted to play at a slower tempo this time in order to nullify Liverpool.
The City boss said: “If you play so quick they are much better than us. We want to create but when you make a mistake – if it is an open game at Anfield, you don’t even have one per cent of a chance. Up and down they are the best team in the world in these transitions.
“We had a clear chance in the last action, so we controlled quite well. We know how complicated it is playing in this stadium and how dangerous they are.
“They are incredibly quick and we controlled them. We didn’t create much but that is normal because they are so strong.
“It is a point. We were close, more than ever to winning here, but it is better than last season. We had our chance.”
Guardiola did not blame Mahrez for missing the penalty – which was blazed high above the bar – but did apologise to Gabriel Jesus for not allowing him to take it. The Brazilian had been keen but Guardiola sent a message on to the field via Benjamin Mendy telling him to defer to Mahrez.
“Yes, he wanted it,” said Guardiola, who had already substituted chief penalty-taker Sergio Aguero. “I apologise.
“But during the training sessions I see (Mahrez) taking the penalties and it gives me a lot of confidence.”
As well as the spot-kick City were awarded, for a foul on Leroy Sane by Virgil van Dijk, the visitors had other strong penalty appeals turned down but Guardiola did not complain.
“I would not like to speak about the referees, about the decisions,” Guardiola said.
Fancy news and features on the Reds on your Facebook timeline? Like our dedicated Liverpool page.