Pep Guardiola has admitted he was furious at Riyad Mahrez for ignoring instructions given to him at half-time, despite the Algerian playing well and scoring a goal.
It was Guardiola’s 87th win in Europe’s most prestigious club competition as a manager and happened to be the tie that brought the most goals. Bundesliga side RB Leipzig added three to Manchester City’s six on the night to treat the Etihad crowd to a spectacular nine-goal thriller.
The Catalan manager now has the third-most wins in tournament history, overtaking legendary figure Arsene Wenger. The Frenchman’s Arsenal side qualified for the Champions League for 19 consecutive seasons, the second-longest consistent tenure in Champions League history, behind only Real Madrid.
Despite his side netting six goals, City were as open in defence as they were clinical in attack, leaving Guardiola cutting a frustrated figure in the technical area. Algeria captain Mahrez felt his wrath on the 63rd minute when Guardiola called him over to the touchline and directed a furious lecture in his direction for the world to see. Despite being 4-2 ahead, he delivered a similar attack to Jack Grealish, who was awarded man of the match after a fine display topped off with a curling effort.
Man City fans took to social media to express their feelings at the events, where Guardiola blasted of his most decisive and creative talents in front of a packed Etihad Stadium.
After the game, Guardiola doubled down in defending his actions, suggesting that Mahrez and Grealish were not fulfilling the defensive duties asked of them.
“We spoke in half-time about the way we had to do it, and they didn’t do it. But it happens,” Guardiola told BT Sport.
“They [Leipzig] are so good, they make four players in the build-up to attract you, and after they find you behind the holding midfielders, where there are a lot of players when the ball goes outside, put it inside. And after they are so fast to attack in behind. So it’s not absolutely easy to control it.”
Grealish did not take the criticism to heart, asserting the level of perfection that Guardiola strives for is the reason why he is one of the greatest managers in history. He explained: “That was just defensive work. I won’t go too much into it because he might want the same tactics for the weekend!
“That’s what the manager’s like. He’s always wanting more defensively and offensively. And obviously, he’s someone that I’m going to listen to after everything he’s done in the game. So obviously, he’s just giving out useful information.”