Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said he gathered his players on the pitch at the end of the 1-1 draw with RB Leipzig because he wasn’t happy that their “heads were down” at the final whistle.
City were held at the Red Bull Arena on Wednesday after Josko Gvardiol’s second-half header cancelled out Riyad Mahrez’s opener in the first half.
Guardiola’s side looked in complete control during the first 45 minutes but were on the back foot in the second half and after the turnaround, Guardiola said he had to remind the players he was happy with the result.
“They were heads down,” said Guardiola.
“I said ‘why are you heads down, be heads up, it was really good the way you play.’ If people don’t like it, it doesn’t matter.
“The game was really good. We played how we should play. In general we don’t have the team to compete in transitions, they are faster and quicker. We don’t have the pace. We had control in the first half, set pieces were close. We have a game in Manchester and we’ll see who wins.”
Despite being second best after half-time City might have had a chance to win it at the end but Dutch referee Serdar Gozubuyuk waved away appeals for a penalty when Benjamin Henrichs appeared to handle Rodri’s header in stoppage time.
Guardiola said afterwards the incident was checked by VAR, although UK broadcaster BT Sport insisted it had not been looked at again.
“I didn’t see the image,” said Guardiola.
“I saw my players but not the image. It was checked [by VAR]. We didn’t talk about the refereeing decisions, the referee decided no.”
City face Leipzig in the return fixture at the Etihad Stadium on March 14 with a chance to qualify for the Champions League quarterfinals for the sixth year in a row.
Before then, however, they have a hectic schedule with games against Bournemouth, Bristol City, Newcastle and Crystal Palace — three of them away from home.
“I had the feeling the game would be decided in the second leg,” said Guardiola.
“Leipzig is a good team, they beat Real Madrid here [in the group stages]. I have a lot of respect for them. Instead of saying we were bad, why not that they were good? I put it in perspective, I’m so delighted with the game we played.
“We can do better, we can adjust something, They are a really good team but we will try to find a way to get through. It’s so demanding, this competition. All the teams are strong.”