Pep Guardiola warned his Manchester City side that Real Madrid are well capable of overturning their first-leg deficit as he admitted City’s Champions League progression is far from certain following their exits to Liverpool and Tottenham in the past two seasons and the general unpredictability of the competition.
City achieved one of their best ever results in Europe on Wednesday night as they came from a goal down at the Bernabeu to beat 13-time Champions League winners Real on their own patch in the first 90 minutes of their two-legged last-16 tie.
Despite centre-back Aymeric Laporte being forced off with injury in the first half and Isco putting the hosts ahead after Rodri and Nicolas Otamendi combined to lose possession, Pep Guardiola’s charges produced the ideal response in the Spanish capital.
But a Gabriel Jesus header brought the Citizens level on 78 minutes and just five minutes later, the Premier League champions led after Kevin De Bruyne outwitted Thibaut Courtois from the penalty spot after substitute Raheem Sterling was felled inside the box.
City were dealt a major boost for the second leg at the Etihad on March 17 when Real captain Sergio Ramos brought down Jesus with the striker running clear through on goal and was shown red.
And while they boast a healthy away goal advantage over Los Blancos, who have hoisted this trophy aloft four times in the past six years, the Catalan coach is cautious of getting carried away.
That is because of their ties against Liverpool and Tottenham in recent years, being dumped out 5-1 by the Reds in 2017-18 before suffering a devastating exit at the hands of Spurs last season, a 4-4 draw seeing the north London club win on away goals.
Guardiola said to BT Sport post-match: “I would say when we were better, we concede a goal, when they were better, we score a goal.