City seemed ready to book a ticket to Paris for the all-English final against rivals for the Premier League, Liverpool, when Riyadh Marrez led them 1-0 in the 73rd minute on Thursday (AEST) in Madrid. playing them 5-3 over both feet.
Jack Grillish saw that the shot was blocked on the line and then another attempt saved Thibaut Courtois when City threatened to run away with him and their place in the second straight Champions League finally seemed secured.
But when Los Blanc in despair threw the score ahead, they found a lifeline when Karim Benzema was able to find Rodrigo on the edge of the penalty area six yards, creating an exciting finish.
Unbelievable, but just 91 seconds later Rodrigo got another cross, which made Marco Asensio to head home and pull the Madrid level in the amount.
The Madrid striker nearly made a hat-trick in the 93rd minute, forcing Ederson’s save to translate into extra time in which Benzema’s penalty sent the Spanish giants, 13-time European champions, at the expense of the City.
Guardiola said it was a tough feeling to get so close before finally getting hit. Indeed, City did not face a single shot on goal until Rodrigo scored Madrid’s first goal in the 90th minute.
“Yes, we were close. We were close, but in the end we couldn’t reach [the final]”he said.
“It’s simple – we didn’t have a game in the first half. We were not good enough, but we did not suffer much.
“After we scored, we were better, found our pace, our game, and the players were comfortable on the field.
“The last 10 minutes have been attacked and attacked, and you are suffering, it was not. At this point we can say, well, they attacked for 10-15 minutes, we could not stand – it was not.
“They put a lot of players in the penalty area – [Eder] Militao, Rodrigo, Vinicius Jr., Benzema, Asensio – all of them, and with crosses, they score two goals.
“We didn’t suffer much – we didn’t play so well – but in these moments in the final the players feel pressure. We were close. Football is unpredictable, it’s a game, and sometimes you have to put up with it. “
Guardiola admitted that after the result there were some players with a broken heart, but he knows that they will need to move quickly and focus again on the Premier League championship race. Four games before the end, “City” has a one-point advantage over “Liverpool”, which has pursued four times.
“Yes [the players are crushed), I mean, we were close to reaching the final of the Champions League,” he added.
“We need some time to process that, then come back with our people at home for the last few games we have.”
Guardiola has now suffered an exit at the semi-final stage of the Champions League on six separate occasions as a manager, tying him level with Jose Mourinho.