Pep Guardiola sent a message of congratulations to Southampton and admitted they were the better side in Manchester City’s shock 2-0 Carabao Cup quarter-final defeat at St Mary’s.
The Saints are rooted to the foot of the Premier League table after losing 12 of their opening 18 games, but goals from Sekou Mara and Moussa Djenepo earned Nathan Jones’ side a famous win against a City who side who failed to register a single shot on target.
City dominated possession but were outgunned and outfought on the night, as Guardiola took the opportunity to rotate his team, starting without Kevin De Bruyne, Erling Haaland and Rodri, while Kyle Walker was repurposed as a centre-back.
With City 2-0 down by half-time, De Bruyne was brought on at the interval to try and turn things around, with Haaland following soon afterwards. But it did little good.
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Guardiola had described Southampton as ‘so strong’ ahead of the game and City fans quickly found out that it wasn’t just an empty compliment. But the problem on the night, no matter how well the Saints did, appeared to be with City and their own performance.
“When you are not prepared to play this game, you arrive one inch late and don’t score a goal. When you are prepared you score the goal,” Guardiola told Sky Sports.
But the Spaniard, who added that it was a ‘bad night’ for the Premier League champions, did reserve praise for Southampton, saying: “The opponent was better so we have to congratulate them. To win games you have to deserve it and we didn’t deserve it.”
City won the Carabao Cup four years in a row from 2018 to 2021 and have lifted it six times in total within the last 10 years. But this is now the second successive season in which they have failed to reach the semi-finals.