Ilkay Gundogan believes Barcelona face a “harder” test against Napoli following the Italian club’s change of manager.

The Serie A champions sacked Walter Mazzarri on Monday and immediately brought in former coach Francesco Calzona until the end of the season.

His debut in the dugout comes at home to Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash on Wednesday night.

Speaking to La Vanguardia, Gundogan said: “This is what the Champions League is all about, making big demands.

“I love this kind of pressure. Every game starts from zero. The fact they have just changed managers won’t make it any easier for us. If anything, it makes it even harder.

“There are other teams in the competition with more of a chance and better experience, but if we can reach the quarter finals, we are entering special territory. I am a realist, but I also know it’s difficult for everybody.”

Barcelona will see their boss Xavi leave the club at the end of the season.

The 44-year-old confirmed the news last month, with Barca falling behind rivals Real Madrid and Girona at the top of the LaLiga table.

Gundogan, who joined the club from Manchester City last summer after completing the treble, admitted he “didn’t expect” Xavi to leave.

He said: “Xavi played a huge role in me coming to Barcelona. If our conversations had gone another way, I wouldn’t be here.

“He made the difference and I’m grateful for that. I didn’t expect him to announce he was leaving at the end of the season, but I respect his decision.

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“He should get a lot of credit. He thinks about his family, the players and the club before himself. Xavi loves Barca.”

Despite their struggles in the league, Xavi steered Barcelona to top spot in Champions League Group H.

Napoli finished second to Madrid in Group C and are also having a far from happy time of things domestically.

They lie ninth in Serie A and have won just twice in their last eight league games.

Barcelona have Joao Felix and Sergi Roberto fit again after spells on the sidelines.

Barcelona beat Alaves 3-1 in LaLiga despite playing the last 20 minutes with a man less.

Alaves piled the pressure on in the first period but Barcelona, in their first game since manager Xavi announced he will resign in the summer, nicked the opening goal of the game through Robert Lewandowski’s ninth of the season.

The home side were looking for a fourth straight league win but their hopes seemed to be snuffed out when Ilkay Gundogan doubled Barca’s lead.

Samuel Omorodion brought the hosts back into the match a couple of minutes later before Vitor Roque came off the bench on the hour mark for a whirlwind few minutes. He slotted Barca’s third and then saw red for a second bookable offence, but Barca nevertheless held on for a fifth win in six league games.

The hosts were causing major problems for Barca through the early stages and Omorodion was waiting to tap in from six yards following Sola’s low cross, but Ronald Araujo was there to clear away from danger.

Back came Alaves in search of the opener, this time Omorodion first to meet a corner at the front post but his glancing header evaded everyone inside the area.

Against the run of play, Barcelona broke the deadlock in the 22nd minute when Lewandowski latched onto a clever through ball from Gundogan and the Poland striker dinked over Antonio Sivera to make it 1-0.

Alaves almost had an equaliser five minutes later as John Guridi nodded towards goal but Barca keeper Inaki Pena did well to push the ball away.

Another wonderful chance went begging for the home team when the ball fell perfectly for Omorodion inside the box but he lashed a volley wide of the target.

Barcelona started the second half in much more solid fashion and their efforts were rewarded with a second goal four minutes after the break when Pedri’s delicious cross found Gundogan at the back post and he volleyed across goal to double the visitors’ lead.

Alaves responded almost instantly when Sola’s cross found Omorodion who headed past Pena to cut the deficit back down to a solitary goal.

Barcelona re-established their two goal lead just after the hour mark with a well-worked team goal.

Lamine Yamal started the move as he danced past Javi Lopez and after a few quick passes, Hector Fort cut it back for Roque who tucked the ball into the bottom right corner.

Barcelona were forced to play the final 20 minutes with a man less after goalscoring substitute Roque was sent off for a second yellow card after just 13 minutes on the pitch.

The 18-year-old Brazilian was booked a few moments before and saw red after he appeared to clip Rafa Marin, which the referee deemed to be worth another yellow card as Barca players protested heavily.

Alaves searched for a route back into the game but Barcelona looked solid and held on to make it back-to-back wins.

Second-half goals from Robert Lewandowski and Lamine Yamal for Barcelona set up an El Clasico against Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final.

The Polish striker netted just before the hour and then Yamal grabbed in time added on to ensure Barca deservedly beat Osasuna 2-0 in the semi-final.

They will now meet their fierce rivals, who beat Atletico Madrid on Wednesday, in Sunday’s final in Riyadh, bidding to win a 15th Super Cup.

Barca were on top from the start and could have had the game in the bag in the first 20 minutes, but they came up against a human wall in the shape of Osasuna goalkeeper Sergio Herrera.

Herrera kept out Andreas Christensen’s volley from a corner, got down well to stop a Lewandowski effort and then tipped over Ilkay Gundogan’s free-kick.

The one time he was beaten, Ferran Torres was just inches off target after Barca had won the ball back in a dangerous position.

The first-half chances kept coming as Sergi Roberto missed his kick from a golden position before Lewandowski put another header over.

Barca goalkeeper Inaki Pena had to make a save of his own to keep out Ante Budimir’s close-range effort and then Raphina limped off injured in the lead up to half-time.

Xavi’s men were back on the front foot in the second half and got their reward in the 59th minute.

Christensen regained possession before Gundogan picked out Lewandowski, who found the bottom corner for his 11th goal of the season.

Joao Felix could have made the game safe soon after but was the latest player to be denied by Herrera, who kept out the Portugal international’s curling effort.

Instead, Barcelona’s lead remained vulnerable and Pena had to pull off another good save to deny Budimir in the 77th minute, while Raul García volleyed over the bar.

They finally killed the game in the third minute of time added on as Yamal struck through Herrera after Felix’s mazy run.

Ilkay Gundogan scored a stoppage-time penalty to give Barcelona a 2-1 win at Las Palmas and close the gap at the top of LaLiga.

After Barca saw defender Joao Cancelo forced off early on with a knee injury, Munir El Haddadi put the Canary Islanders ahead against his former club.

Ferran Torres equalised soon after the restart before Gundogan slotted in a dramatic late winner from the penalty spot after being pushed over by Daley Sinkgraven, who was shown a red card, to leave Barca seven points behind leaders Real Madrid and Girona.

Brazil forward Vitor Roque was named on the bench after Barcelona received league clearance on the 18-year-old forward’s 40million euro (£35m) move from Athletico Paranaense.

There was an early injury worry for Barca when Cancelo was forced off for some treatment on a knee problem. Although the Portugal defender came back on, he did not last long and was replaced by Andreas Christensen.

Las Palmas soon took the lead in the 12th minute when former Barca striker El Haddadi swept in a low cross from fellow Blaugrana old boy Sandro Ramirez.

Barca looked for a swift response as defender Alejandro Balde got clear down the left, but his ball into the penalty area was cleared behind.

Sandro tested Barca keeper Inaki Pena with an angled drive at the near post following another fluid counter attack by the hosts.

Las Palmas continued to press, with Pena first making a smart save from Javier Munoz’s rising drive before Sandro’s deflected effort from the rebound hit the base of the post.

There was a slight delay at the start of the second half as the bottom of the goal net which Barcelona would be attacking needed some repairs.

Barca threatened when Raphinha fired over from the edge of the penalty area.

The equaliser eventually came in the 55th minute when the ball took a couple of fortuitously defections through the Las Palmas penalty area and fell to Torres, who slotted into the bottom corner.

Frenkie De Jong fired straight at Las Palmas goalkeeper Alvaro Valles after being set up by the busy Gundogan.

Barca boss Xavi made a change for the closing 20 minutes, as Robert Lewandowski was replaced by Joao Felix and Lamine Yamal came on for Raphinha.

Las Palmas went close when Mika Marmol glanced a header wide from a corner before Roque was handed his Barca debut in the 79th minute, coming on for Torres.

Just when it looked like Barca would have to settle for a point, Las Palmas substitute Sinkgraven bundled over Gundogan at the far post as the midfielder looked to head the ball in – and was shown a straight red card.

Gundogan picked himself up and took the resulting penalty himself to calmly slot in a stoppage-time winner before Roque stabbed a late chance wide from six yards.

Sergi Roberto came to Barcelona’s rescue with a brace to finally see off rock-bottom Almeria 3-2 as the LaLiga champions returned to winning ways.

The hosts looked set to stretch their winless run to four games in all competitions after twice being pegged back by opponents still in search of their first league win of the season.

But the 31-year-old latched on to a through-ball from Robert Lewandowski in the 83rd minute to grab the points which take his side back within four points of second-placed Real Madrid.

Xavi’s men were overwhelming favourites as they aimed to shrug off their recent poor run, and they started on top.

Joao Felix floated a free-kick just over the crossbar then Sergi Roberto saw his first chance well saved by busy Almeria goalkeeper Luis Maximiano.

Joao Cancelo was next up with an effort that he drilled straight at the keeper, before Fermin Lopez headed over from Ilkay Gundogan’s pinpoint cross.

Sergi Roberto blasted over from long-range on the half-hour mark before Barca finally made their seemingly inevitable breakthrough three minutes later when Ronald Araujo’s deflected effort fell to Raphinha who fired it into an empty net.

Lewandowski almost doubled Barcelona’s lead before Almeria snatched their chance to level four minutes before the break, Leo Baptistao lofting the ball over advancing Barca keeper Inaki Pena and surviving a VAR check.

Baptistao had a chance to put his side in front before the break but dragged an effort wide and normal service resumed early in the second period with substitute Ferran Torres and Lewandowski both denied.

Sergi Roberto grabbed his opener on the hour when he met Raphinha’s corner with a header at the near post to put Barcelona back in front.

But the lead lasted barely 10 minutes before the hosts were undone by a calamitous error by Pena, who dropped the ball in a collision with Araujo, allowing the alert Edgar Gonzalez to slide it into an empty net.

The hosts responded well, Araujo making up for his part in the equaliser by heading just wide, before Gundogan contrived to somehow miss his chance with the goal at his mercy.

Sergi Roberto finally grabbed what proved to be the decider in the 83rd minute when he ran on to Lewandowski’s ball through the middle to seal three hard-earned points.

Lewandowski almost added a fourth and the captain was denied a hat-trick deep into added time when his effort rattled back off the woodwork.

After years of near misses, 2023 was when everything came together on the pitch for Manchester City and they finally got their hands on the Champions League trophy.

Their triumph on a glorious June evening in Istanbul, sealed with a fine Rodri strike against Inter Milan, capped a memorable campaign in which they also retained the Premier League and won the FA Cup.

It was a treble achieved only once previously, by Manchester United, and City left their rivals in no doubt as to where the power now lies along the way as they swatted them aside at Wembley.

Ilkay Gundogan scored the fastest goal recorded in an FA Cup final, after just 13 seconds, as City prevailed in an all-Manchester showpiece that was more convincing than the 2-1 scoreline suggested.

The manner in which City won the title was just as impressive, clawing back an eight-point deficit in the spring to overhaul Arsenal, the highlight being a stunning 4-1 defeat of the Gunners in April.

The intensity of that performance was matched over two legs against Real Madrid in the Champions League final, with the 4-0 win at the Etihad Stadium leaving few in any doubt this was a side destined for greatness.

Erling Haaland finished the 2022-23 campaign with an extraordinary 52 goals to his name yet the story of City’s season was of a fine team tuned to perfection by Pep Guardiola.

But a large cloud still hangs over the club, after they were charged with 115 historical breaches of financial regulations by the Premier League in February.

Elsewhere, Manchester United returned to trophy-winning ways by claiming the Carabao Cup and Newcastle emerged as a new force by snatching a Champions League spot.

West Ham won their first major trophy since 1980 as they triumphed in the Europa Conference League, a success that finally earned silverware for their veteran manager David Moyes. Beating Fiorentina in the final also provided a fitting farewell for Declan Rice, who later joined Arsenal.

Everton evaded relegation by the skin of their teeth with Leicester facing the drop instead, just six years after winning the Premier League. Luton, a mere 10 years after playing in the National League, defied the odds to win promotion.

Celtic won the domestic treble north of the border while on the international front, England and Scotland both qualified for Euro 2024. Wales will hope to join them.

The women’s game was dominated by the World Cup in Australia. England enjoyed a fine run to the final but fell at the last hurdle as Spain took the glory in a game that became overshadowed by post-match controversy involving Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales.

The Women’s Super League was won, for a fourth year in succession, by Chelsea.

Jude Bellingham admitted he had done something great after almost single-handedly winning his first El Clasico for Real Madrid.

The England midfielder scored a stunning equaliser and dramatic stoppage-time clincher as Real came from behind to beat arch-rivals Barcelona 2-1 at the Lluis Companys Olympic Stadium on Saturday.

It continued Bellingham’s extraordinary start as a Real Madrid player, with the 20-year-old having now scored 13 goals in as many appearances for Los Blancos.

Bellingham told the club’s website: “I had watched many Clasicos from the sofa with my family and I told them that today it was my turn to live it first-hand and do something great. I’ve done that and I’m very happy.”

Real trailed at half-time to an early Ilkay Gundogan strike and Bellingham conceded he had not been at his best.

Such is his confidence, however, that he only had one thing on his mind when a shooting opportunity opened up 25 yards out with 68 minutes gone.

He duly lashed home a fine equaliser and he was not done there, volleying in from close range in the dying moments.

He said: “I wasn’t at my best. Sometimes it’s not about trying to do something special every time you have the ball, but to combine with those up top.

“I fulfilled that task well but as soon as I got the ball there I knew I was going to score.

“I got the ball on the edge of the box. I’ve been saying for a few weeks that I need to try from outside.

“Maybe the opponents expect me to try to get into the box or combine with a team-mate and I wanted to surprise them by hitting it from outside the box.

“I know I have the technique and it went into the top corner.”

Real coach Carlo Ancelotti, whose side moved back to the top of LaLiga with the win, has been stunned by the impact Bellingham has had.

He said: “We’re all surprised at the level he’s at, especially in terms of how effective he’s been. He could easily score 20 or 25 goals.

“He looks like a veteran. His attitude is very good. He’s the player who has made the biggest difference.”

Kyle Walker will continue wearing the Manchester City captain’s armband for now – but has refused to reveal who the long-term skipper will be.

The England right-back has led City so far this term after previous incumbent Ilkay Gundogan left the club following last season’s treble success.

As in previous campaigns, the squad have held a vote to determine the make-up of the players’ leadership group, from which a senior figure usually emerges as captain.

Walker has revealed that this season the group comprises of himself, Kevin De Bruyne, Ruben Dias, Rodri and Bernardo Silva but has given no further information.

That could suggest De Bruyne, who is currently sidelined through injury, is the player who will ultimately take up the mantle but Walker insists it does not matter who it is.

“There is a captain but I just feel out of respect to everyone that’s involved in it, there’s no numbers,” said the England international.

“We’re a team and we (the leadership group) are a team inside a team, and whoever wears the armband or has the armband on the day, is going to wear the armband until the time is right, until certain members in that captaincy group feel it’s right to announce the number or the order.

“That’s what we’ll do but, until then, I’m wearing the armband because I was the third captain last season and I’ll continue to wear it for the rest of the season until the time’s right.

“I don’t even think it’s really necessary. We’re a team inside a team.”

City, after winning their opening five Premier League games, continued their strong start to the season with a comfortable 3-1 win over Red Star Belgrade in their Champions League opener on Tuesday.

Walker feels City are constantly evolving as manager Pep Guardiola bids to keep his side ahead of their rivals.

He said: “I think that’s Pep being Pep. I think teams work us out, teams find the strategy of how they feel that they’re going to play or defend against us.

“When we can build up in different ways, I think that puts another tool in our toolbox where we can change it mid-game and it seems to be working for us.

“He’s got the key ingredient. He knows when’s right to let certain players go, bring players in, freshen things up here, give people challenges here and there.

“He’s got a fine balance and how to do it and it seems to work, not just here but at the number of teams that he’s been at because he’s been very successful.”

Retiring playmaker David Silva should be remembered as one of the best players to grace the Premier League, according to his former Manchester City team-mate Joleon Lescott.

Real Sociedad midfielder Silva announced his retirement at the age of 37 last Thursday, having suffered a serious knee injury in pre-season training.

Prior to joining La Real in 2020, Silva won four Premier League titles and seven domestic cups during a memorable spell at the Etihad Stadium, where he has since been honoured with a statue. 

Silva – who also won the 2010 World Cup and two European Championship titles with Spain – led all Premier League players for assists (89) and chances created (768) during the decade between 2010 and 2020.

Having played alongside Silva between 2010 and 2014, former City defender Lescott believes Silva deserves to be seen as a Premier League great. 

"When he joined he was obviously a World Cup winner and a Euros winner, and he turned out to be an iconic Premier League player, one of the best to ever grace the Premier League," Lescott told Stats Perform.

"I think we all are aware of what his qualities were on the pitch, but what a guy. What a human being. My biggest compliment to David is that he's equally as good a person as he is a player."

City have lost two further club icons during the current transfer window, with Ilkay Gundogan joining Barcelona on a free transfer and Riyad Mahrez signing for Saudi side Al Ahli in a £30million deal.

Lescott believes the duo will be missed by Pep Guardiola's treble winners, adding: "The qualities they'll bring to their new teams are obvious. 

"They have superior technical ability. Ilkay is recognised as one of the best leaders in the squad. Riyad is obviously one of the most skilful. 

"They'll bring that to their new teams but they'll be sorely missed, not just because of their ability on the pitch, but [because of] what they brought to the dressing room and what they were to City's fanbase."

Having delivered the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup trophies last term, Guardiola is looking to lead City to a fourth successive top-flight title this season.

Asked about Guardiola's impact on English football, Lescott said: "He's obviously changed the game, he's revolutionised different positions, the way we look at it and the way we view it.

"Every country he's managed in, I think they've tried to adapt throughout the leagues, and that's the biggest compliment for Pep. 

"Now in England there are multiple teams in multiple leagues that want to play the way they see Man City play."

Ilkay Gundogan is a midfield "heavyweight" and his arrival at Barcelona will raise the level of team-mates including Frenkie de Jong, Pedri and Gavi.

That is the view of Barca great Hristo Stoichkov, who is excited by the prospect of the former Manchester City captain slotting into Xavi's title-winning side.

Barca won LaLiga for the first time since Lionel Messi's 2021 departure last season, with a young Blaugrana team finishing 10 points clear of rivals Real Madrid.

Gundogan joined Barca on a free transfer in June after helping City become just the second side to win a Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League treble, and Stoichkov hopes his experience will benefit younger team-mates. 

"I think it's fantastic because he's a great player," Stoichkov told Stats Perform. "I have always liked Gundogan as a player since he did it in Dortmund, then at City and also with his national team. 

"He is a great professional and I think he will help a lot with his experience because Barcelona have a young team. 

"Frenkie De Jong, Pedri, Gavi, [Alejandro] Balde, [Ronald] Araujo and Ansu Fati are young and having a heavyweight in the squad can help them grow."

Gundogan will have to wait for his Camp Nou debut, with Barca due to play their home games at the Estadi Olimpic while their famous home is renovated next season.

President Joan Laporta pledged to create "the best stadium in the world" as the project began in May, and Stoichkov says the work – which will include the construction of a new roof – is overdue.

"For me Camp Nou is a myth and not only from my time, but since it was built in 1957," he said. "The greatest players, coaches and presidents in history have passed through that stadium. 

"It is a symbol and a temple of world football. When I arrived at Barcelona in 1990 and left at such a huge moment and with 120,000 people shouting my name, it will always remain in my memory. 

"But it is obvious that after so many years a remodelling is necessary, and Camp Nou needed something new. 

"Thank God, Laporta in his second stage as president has managed to rebuild Camp Nou and do something new. Barcelona needed it, Catalonia needed it, FC Barcelona needed it. 

"I will always have good memories. I recently sent some friends to collect a piece of the grass, a stone and a seat so that I can put them in my museum because it was very important in my career. 

"I will always remember my first goal for Barcelona at Camp Nou against Valencia, when we won 3-1. When I saw 120,000 people shouting my name, I realised Camp Nou was a temple."

Stoichkov – who won five league titles and the 1991-92 European Cup during his time with Barca – hopes the modernisation helps the club return to the top of the continental game.

"We must recognise it is the modern era," he added. "I played in very old stadiums in England, Germany, France, Italy and Spain and today there are new cycles, new presidents, new players and everyone wanted something new. 

"Obviously when you have a first-level stadium, you like to enjoy it. This is a time when Barcelona are building a new field and a new team so that in a few years, they can win the Champions League again, which is a great wish I have."

Manchester City captain Ilkay Gundogan is poised to join Barcelona, the PA news agency understands.

The Germany international, who is out of contract this summer, now seems unlikely to renew terms with the treble winners.

City had offered the 32-year-old a new one-year contract with the option of a further 12 months but Barca are understood to have presented a more tempting three-year, and more financially-rewarding, package.

City are comfortable with the situation and the player would leave with their blessing.

The development comes on the same day City are understood to have agreed a £30million deal with Chelsea to sign Croatia midfielder Mateo Kovacic.

The champions are set to pay an initial £25million for the 29-year-old with a further £5m to follow in potential add-ons.

Kovacic, who joined Chelsea from Real Madrid in 2018, is entering the final year of his contract at Stamford Bridge.

City now expect to complete formalities with the player and an official announcement will follow in due course.

Kovacic’s versatility and experience would go some way to compensating for the loss of Gundogan.

The influential former Borussia Dortmund midfielder has won five Premier League titles, two FA Cups, four League Cups and the Champions League in his seven years at City.

This year Gundogan lifted three trophies as City became only the second English side to win the treble.

The club had been keen to retain his services but, given his age, did not want to match Barcelona’s offer and have taken a pragmatic decision.

Kovacic would arrive at City as a four-time Champions League winner having been a member of Chelsea’s victorious side in 2021 and triumphed on three occasions with Madrid. He also had a spell with Inter Milan earlier in his career.

Ilkay Gundogan is determined not to lose momentum as Manchester City aim to close out the season by winning the treble.

City claimed the first of the three trophies they are chasing by winning the Premier League title over the weekend.

Their sights are now set on adding the FA Cup and Champions League but, before they can switch thoughts fully to their two finals next month, they have to complete the league programme.

City, who are unbeaten in 24 games, wrap up their Premier League campaign by travelling to Brighton on Wednesday and Brentford next Sunday and Gundogan is wary of easing up in those matches.

The City captain said: “We haven’t lost any games for so many weeks and that’s the standard that we have to set for ourselves.

“We do nothing different – we do the same things that we’ve done in the last few weeks and hopefully it can be a really special end to the season.

“I love the club and being part of this amazing team.

“Obviously, we want to finish the season with two more trophies. We have two more big finals, and the last two games of the Premier League season are going to be preparation for that.

“We don’t want to drop anything. I would love to lift two more trophies.”

The ultimate success of City’s season will now be defined by the FA Cup final, in which they face Manchester United on June 3, and the Champions League final against Inter Milan the following week.

After a strong run throughout the spring – capped by magnificent performances in crunch games against title rivals Arsenal and then Real Madrid in the Champions League – the focus is strong.

Kevin De Bruyne, who like Gundogan is now a five-time Premier League winner, said: “We like to win, and we’re never bored of it. We’ve won a lot in the past but we want to win again and again.

“We keep on working. We enjoy the games against Brighton and Brentford and prepare for United and Inter and hopefully we can do something special.

“Everybody wants it. We know we need to win two games, but they are hard games, and we need to prepare ourselves the best as possible and hopefully we can win them.”

Midfielder Rodri is confident City can achieve their goal.

He said: “We know there is a long way to go with two big finals and we have to prepare good.

“We can do it. We believe in ourselves. We have been working to arrive in these moments and we are prepared.”

Ilkay Gundogan accepted his share of the blame after Premier League leaders Manchester City failed to beat relegation-threatened Leeds by a convincing scoreline on Saturday.

The German midfielder scored both of City’s goals as they maintained their title charge with a 2-1 victory at the Etihad Stadium but his late missed penalty opened the door for a potential Leeds fightback.

Regular penalty-taker and top scorer Erling Haaland passed up the chance to score from the spot to allow club captain Gundogan a shot at a first career hat-trick, but things almost went badly wrong.

Gundogan’s effort in the 84th minute smacked the post and Leeds scored just moments later through Rodrigo.

Suddenly, a game City had completely dominated until that point ended in a frantic finish but the hosts held on.

Manager Pep Guardiola was far from impressed by the episode and Gundogan held his hands up.

“It was a good performance,” said Gundogan. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to transmit that performance into the result.

“It feels like this game should have been won by at least three goals’ difference.

“We had a lot of possession, we were able to create a lot of chances. The negative is that we were not able to score a third one.

“The game could have been over in the first half and, of course, also in the second. We had plenty of chances – myself included, unfortunately – to score a third one.

“Conceding quite an easy goal made the last five to 10 minutes a little bit nervous for us, which should not have happened. It’s another experience that we take on board.”

That incident aside, Gundogan was outstanding, putting his side in command by sweeping home from Riyad Mahrez passes on the edge of the area in the 19th and 27th minutes.

City could have increased their lead several times over with Haaland going close on a number of occasions, including hitting the woodwork twice himself.

Gundogan feels it is important City, who now face Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals on Tuesday, continue to set high standards as they chase the treble.

He said: “Some people say it’s more important to win than play well, which might be true, but I think that’s just not our standard.

“Of course we want to win games but also we want to keep playing the way we have done here.

“There’s just a few games left until the season is over and every game is like a final right now.”

Until their late flurry, Leeds offered little in Sam Allardyce’s first match in charge and they remain in deep trouble at the bottom of the table.

Allardyce has just three games – tough fixtures against Newcastle, West Ham and Tottenham – to steer them to safety.

It looks a daunting task but the 68-year-old is determined to get the best out of his players.

He said: “Even though my position is head coach I am a manager, and my biggest strength is making people feel better, making people do better.

“Since Monday with (assistants) Karl Robinson and Robbie Keane and the staff already here, we’re working diligently to make the team better.

“We haven’t stopped talking for the last four days, and not just daytime. We’ve been together all night, every night, plotting, talking and trying to find the right formula.”

Manchester City captain Ilkay Gundogan has denied that he has agreed terms with Barcelona.

Gundogan's contract expires at the end of the season and it has been reported he will join LaLiga leaders Barca as a free agent.

But the Germany midfielder says he has not decided who he will be playing for when the 2023-24 campaign gets under way.

He said: "My future is not yet decided. Sure, there are talks in the background. But I won't go into details now.

"I am happy at Manchester City and fighting to win titles.  I am also very happy to be the captain of this team."

He added: "You have to wait [to find out about his future]."

Gundogan has won four Premier League titles since joining City from Borussia Dortmund in 2016, also lifting the EFL Cup four times and the FA Cup in 2019.

He led Pep Guardiola's side in a 1-1 draw at Bayern Munich on Wednesday, sealing a 4-1 aggregate win to set up a Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid.

City are in the hunt for a Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup treble.

Ilkay Gundogan promised Manchester City "will fight to the end" as they bid to match Manchester United's famous 1998-99 treble feat.

Captain Gundogan is in his seventh season at City and is chasing a fifth Premier League title, a second FA Cup and a first Champions League crown.

United great Gary Neville has described City as being "far too close for comfort" to matching the Red Devils' famous feat of 24 years ago.

This week sees City in Champions League and FA Cup action, with a 3-0 advantage to carry into their European quarter-final second leg at Bayern Munich on Wednesday ahead of a domestic semi-final against Sheffield United at Wembley on Saturday.

They are in hot pursuit of a faltering Arsenal in the Premier League and host the Gunners next week in that competition.

City have never won the Champions League and ending that wait is becoming an obsession, a remarkable situation considering they were relegated to the third tier of English football 25 years ago.

Huge investment since has made the dream possible, and Gundogan said: "Of course we want to win this trophy. It's our big dream to win the Champions League."

In an interview with German outlet T-Online, he added: "But we want to win all the trophies this year. It's going to be a really exciting end to this season, and we're going to fight for it to the end."

The midfielder, whose contract expires after this campaign, described it as the players' "responsibility to do everything we can to end the season strong so that we can all celebrate success in the end".

It was Gundogan who scored twice in the closing moments of last season as City came from 2-0 behind to beat Aston Villa 3-2 and win the Premier League title.

This term he has managed five goals and four assists, well down on his return from the past two campaigns (2021: 17 goals, four assists; 2022: 10 goals, seven assists), but he remains highly influential and City would like to keep him.

It remains to be seen whether Gundogan remains a City player when the Euro 2024 finals roll around next year, with Germany hosting.

The 32-year-old certainly hopes to still be in favour with his national team, saying it "would be a privilege" to feature.

Considering Germany have gone out in the group stage at the last two World Cups, and lost to England in the last 16 of the delayed Euro 2020 finals, they will have to markedly step it up if they are to be competitive in front of home crowds.

"We all know that we have to improve and deliver better performances and results – even before the tournament," Gundogan said.

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