Pep Guardiola refused to blame Erling Haaland for wasting chances after Manchester City were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw by Chelsea on Saturday.

The normally prolific Haaland spurned a number of opportunities, including one glaring free header from six yards out, as the champions were held in a compelling Premier League clash at the Etihad Stadium.

City ultimately needed an 83rd-minute equaliser from Rodri to rescue a point after their former forward Raheem Sterling had put the Londoners on course for an unexpected win with a 43rd-minute effort.

City manager Guardiola said: “It’s good to have nine shots and next time he’s going to score.

“I was a football player for 11 years and scored 11 goals. What stats! One goal a season. I’m not a proper man to give advice to strikers.

“We create the chances; he had the chances and next time he’s going to score. I don’t blame him. It’s football, it’s human beings.”

Haaland looked frustrated at the end of the game and pushed away a TV camera, but it has been a difficult week for the Norway international after the death of his grandmother.

The result left City four points off the top of the table in third place, after title rivals Liverpool and Arsenal won earlier in the day.

City dominated the second half, but Guardiola felt they paid the price for a poor first-half display.

Guardiola said: “As a team and a group, the first half was not like we are.

“The demands are so high because no-one is going to give it to us, we have to do everything. We are Man City, so we have to do it for ourselves all the time.

“We had to improve the first half and the second half was unbelievable, how we played and how we made transitions.

“In general, it was really good after we conceded from Raheem but when we play teams with composure and prestige of Chelsea you have to perform at your best for 95 minutes.”

Chelsea’s season has been one of inconsistency, but manager Mauricio Pochettino felt they showed their true character against strong opposition.

Pochettino said: “We tried to prepare, all the coaching staff, to make the plan for the game but football is always a game that belongs to the players and today the execution and the performance was from them. They showed character.

“It was a really important game for us to keep the momentum to realise we are in a good way and improving.

“Still we are not at the level of Man City but that is our aim.

“We need to live this type of game to improve and to create the spirit we need. We show in every single game we want to be competitive.”

Julian Alvarez struck twice and Erling Haaland returned to action as Manchester City eased to a 3-1 win over relegation-threatened Burnley.

Argentinian World Cup-winner Alvarez, on his 24th birthday, netted twice in the first half and Rodri added a third as the champions went untroubled until Ameen Al-Dakhil grabbed a stoppage-time consolation at the Etihad Stadium.

City were further cheered by the sight of Haaland returning from injury as a late substitute while Kevin De Bruyne made his first Premier League start since August.

It was a miserable return to the ground for former City captain Vincent Kompany, the Burnley manager, with his side comprehensively beaten and left seven points adrift of safety.

Given their predicament and having conceded 37 goals in their previous nine visits to the Etihad, the Clarets were hardly expected to trouble the treble winners.

Yet this was an especially limp performance and City, aided by some poor defending, barely got out of second gear.

After 15 minutes of the home side calmly controlling possession, Phil Foden caught the visitors off-guard as he released Matheus Nunes with a flicked ball.

The Portuguese’s first cross was blocked but he was given all the time he needed to attempt it for a second time, and casually picked out an unmarked Alvarez to head home from close range.

Burnley were caught napping again just six minutes later as the striker doubled City’s lead from a cleverly-taken set-piece.

De Bruyne spotted a huge gap in the area as he lined up a free-kick and played a low ball in for Alvarez to turn and slot past former City youngster James Trafford.

It was a routine that had clearly been worked on in training as manager Pep Guardiola made a point of congratulating his assistant Carlos Vicens, a dead-ball specialist.

City threatened more as Nunes tested Trafford from a tight angle and a dangerous Jeremy Doku cross was turned behind.

Burnley had a rare chance when Lyle Foster curled an effort narrowly wide but City tightened their grip in the opening minute of the second half.

Foden was again instrumental as he raced onto a De Bruyne throughball and pulled back for Rodri, who nonchalantly passed into the net from the edge of the area.

Burnley had a fleeting opportunity as Zeki Amdouni blazed over and their frustration was evident as Connor Roberts got involved in a needless confrontation with Rico Lewis and Ederson.

After that the biggest cheers from City fans came as Haaland entered the fray 19 minutes from time.

He was unable to find the net despite some good runs and one air shot.

Burnley had the final say when Al-Dakhil turned in a cross from debutant David Datro Fofana’s cross but the outcome had long since been determined.

Manchester City could be without midfielder Rodri for Sunday’s FA Cup tie against Huddersfield following the death of his grandmother.

The Spaniard has been granted compassionate leave and is currently back in Madrid.

Manager Pep Guardiola says the player has not definitely been ruled out but he seems unlikely to feature as the holders begin their defence of the trophy in the third-round tie at the Etihad Stadium.

Guardiola said at a press conference: “Rodri, unfortunately, his grandmother passed away yesterday and he is in Madrid. Today and tomorrow he will not be here.

“Hopefully he will come back for the game but, if he needs to stay, family issues are the most important thing.”

Guardiola has also revealed a number of his players have suffered from fever this week and are also doubtful.

He said: “Four players have problems. Bernardo (Silva), Scotty (Carson), Kalvin (Phillips) and Matheus Nunes are, like many people at this time, suffering.”

The match could give Kevin De Bruyne the opportunity to get some minutes as he continues his comeback from a hamstring injury but Guardiola insists the Belgian will not be rushed.

De Bruyne, who was an unused substitute for last week’s clash against Sheffield United, has not played since August.

Guardiola said: “Kevin has been (out for a) long time so we have to be patient and give the right minutes for him.

“It was a big injury. What I am concerned with the most is to try and avoid a repeat. This is what we have to be careful with.”

Star striker Erling Haaland and winger Jeremy Doku are still out after injuries but are nearing a return.

Guardiola said: “For Erling, it’s a bit better. He has done two training sessions and he feels good.

“They are improving. I don’t know for Sunday, I don’t know for Newcastle, but for the rest (of the games) they will be ready.”

Defender John Stones is City’s other notable absentee with an ankle injury.

Guardiola said Jack Grealish’s state of mind was improved after a burglary at the England international’s home over Christmas.

Thieves reportedly stole jewellery worth £1million after breaking into the midfielder’s Cheshire mansion while his fiancee and members of his family were present.

Guardiola said: “He’s much better. He’s had time to fix so it won’t happen again and the burglars have to know that there is no more jewellery at home.

“Our chief security man is handling it with Jack, his family and his (fiancee). They’re impacted, which is normal. When you’re at home and you have people come inside, it’s scary.”

The January transfer window is now open but Guardiola would give no clues as to any potential arrivals or departures.

Asked specifically about Phillips, whose future has been the subject of speculation, Guardiola said: “I don’t know, I don’t talk about the transfer window.

“I don’t know if we are going to sign 10 players, get (rid of) 10 players. Maybe one – I don’t think it will happen, but you never know.”

Pep Guardiola played down the significance of his side’s victory over Sheffield United on Saturday despite it increasing the pressure at the top of the Premier League.

Goals from Rodri and Julian Alvarez at the Etihad Stadium saw the champions wrap up a memorable 2023 – a year in which they won five trophies – with a comfortable 2-0 victory over the struggling Blades.

The result lifted City within two points of leaders Liverpool at the end of a draining month in which they played nine matches, including two in Saudi Arabia at the Club World Cup.

That could be viewed as ominous for the rest of the competition but City manager Guardiola did not want to be drawn into such talk.

Guardiola said: “What we have done in the past doesn’t mean it is going to happen in the future. The future is happy New Year and three days off, and after that it is Huddersfield. No further than that.

“Except for two or three games, we were better than the opponents and could not get the results we deserved – but it is business and you have to win games.

“Today we did it and I’m really pleased for the guys. It was an intense month.”

Guardiola felt City were initially below their best but was pleased with the way they roused themselves.

He said: “The first half was a little bit flat. The body language of the players – they didn’t communicate, didn’t talk, didn’t laugh, didn’t shout.

“It was ‘OK, I have to play a football game’, but football games cannot be played in that way.

“At half-time, for the first time, I didn’t talk one word about tactics. I took a chair and sat and said, ‘Guys go out with a smile on your face and with another rhythm in terms of enjoying what you’re doing. We are not going to do what happened against Crystal Palace’.”

“In the second half, the first 15 minutes were the best minutes that we did.”

Guardiola also hailed an “incredible effort” from Jack Grealish, who started for City after a difficult few days following a burglary at his house.

Defeat left Sheffield United bottom of the table but manager Chris Wilder found positives in the attitude of his players.

He said: “It felt like we played football for about five hours. At the start, when you are walking out, and you see five trophies, it hits home to you and what you are up against.

“We were light in terms of Premier League experience but what we weren’t light on is fight or character, and that has delighted me since I walked through the door.

“It is incredibly difficult to come here, even for the top teams. We stuck at it and it was great experience for the young lads to learn. There is no downside from this game.”

Aston Villa scored a late penalty to beat strugglers Burnley 3-2 and move second in the Premier League.

Villa – who lost 3-2 at Manchester United on Boxing Day after leading 2-0 – went ahead in the 28th minute through Leon Bailey.

The Clarets were back on level terms just three minutes later when Zeki Amdouni fired home from close range following a free-kick.

Burnley had the ball in the net again, but Lyle Foster’s effort was ruled out for offside before Moussa Diaby then added a second for Villa in the 42nd minute.

The visitors were reduced to 10 men in the 56th minute when midfielder Sander Berge was given a second caution for tugging back Douglas Luiz.

Foster, though, hauled Burnley level with 20 minutes left – this time his goal allowed to stand following a VAR review.

Just when it looked like Vincent Kompany’s men would hold out for a welcome point, Aaron Ramsey fouled Jhon Duran to concede an 89th-minute penalty. Luiz sent his spot-kick on to the underside of the crossbar and into the roof of the net to secure another home win for Villa.

Manchester City beat Sheffield United 2-0 at the Ethiad Stadium to move third, above Arsenal on goal difference.

Rodri gave City the lead in the 14th minute with a low finish into the bottom corner after good hold-up play by Phil Foden.

Midfielder Jack Grealish – whose Cheshire home had been burgled while he was away playing at Everton on Wednesday night – was taken off early in the second half and replaced by Oscar Bobb.

Julian Alvarez doubled City’s lead just after the hour from close range after Bobb had played in Foden.

Earlier, Chelsea survived a spirited late fightback by Luton to win 3-2 at Kenilworth Road.

Mauricio Pochettino’s team had looked to be cruising to a first away victory since early November following a brace from Cole Palmer – his second goal showing fine close control – either side of Noni Madueke’s strike just before half-time.

Luton, though, set up a tense final 10 minutes after Ross Barkley scored against his former club before Elijah Adebayo pulled another back late on, but the Blues held out.

Michael Olise scored twice as Crystal Palace returned to winning ways after coming from behind to beat Brentford 3-1 at Selhurst Park.

Keane Lewis-Potter fired the Bees into an early lead after just two minutes, the goal given following a lengthy VAR check for a possible offside.

Palace were soon back on level terms in the 14th minute when Olise volleyed in at the back post before Eberechi Eze completed the turnaround shortly before half-time.

Olise fired in a well-taken second from the edge of the penalty area in the 58th minute as Palace ended an eight-match winless run.

Wolves maintained their good form with a 3-0 win over relegation-battlers Everton at Molineux.

Captain Max Kilman put Wolves in front in the 25th minute following a scramble in the penalty area, which was only his second goal for the club. The players celebrated by holding up a shirt in support of Mario Lemina following the death of his father.

Wolves doubled their lead early in the second half through a close-range finish from Matheus Cunha and Craig Dawson added a third on the hour.

Hwang Hee-chan and Pedro Neto both saw goals disallowed for offside as Gary O’Neil’s well-drilled went on to close out a third straight win.

Manchester City added the Club World Cup to last season’s treble with an emphatic 4-0 win over Brazilian side Fluminense in Jeddah on Friday.

Julian Alvarez struck twice, setting them on their way after just 40 seconds and wrapping up victory late on, while Phil Foden forced an own goal and grabbed the other himself.

It was manager Pep Guardiola’s fourth triumph in the competition but one that came at a cost as influential midfielder Rodri was forced off in the second half with an injury.

City, who were again without striker Erling Haaland due to a foot problem, now face an anxious wait over the Spaniard’s fitness ahead of the resumption of their Premier League title defence at Everton next Wednesday.

Rodri, who limped off after a challenge from Alexsander, has already missed four games through suspension this season and City have lost them all.

Yet for now City can celebrate their fifth trophy of 2023, having also claimed the European Super Cup in August.

They were far too strong for the ageing Copa Libertadores winners, who repeatedly invited pressure on to themselves.

City were gifted the perfect start when veteran former Real Madrid captain Marcelo – one of seven in the Fluminense starting line-up aged 33 or over – found Nathan Ake with an attempted crossfield pass from deep inside his own half.

Ake wasted no time as he thumped a long-range shot against a post and there was nothing goalkeeper Fabio could do as Alvarez crouched to make sure the rebound bounced in off his chest.

City did have a scare when Ederson gave the ball away and then brought down German Cano but were spared by an offside flag.

Apart from that, Fluminense rarely threatened and City doubled their lead when Rodri played in Foden and his ball across the box deflected off Nino and looped into the net.

Ederson was called upon to keep out a Jhon Arias header just before the break, but City almost claimed another when Jack Grealish tested Fabio from distance.

Fabio also produced a good double save to deny Foden and Bernardo Silva in quick succession early in the second half.

City’s third came as Rodri attempted to run off his injury, with Alvarez getting free down the left and crossing for Foden to slide in after 72 minutes.

Rodri was removed moments later, but Alvarez put the seal on success with a clean strike two minutes from time.

Pep Guardiola has admitted Manchester City may need to seek a replacement for Kalvin Phillips in January if the England midfielder moves on.

Phillips, 28, is expected to leave the Etihad next month in search of regular first-team football, having been unable to force his way into Guardiola’s side in the 18 months since his £42million switch from Leeds.

And while Guardiola insisted he was not thinking about the January market, that might change if he was left short of numbers in midfield, where City have struggled any time their regular enforcer Rodri has been missing through injury or suspension.

“Right now I don’t have anything in my mind,” Guardiola said. “It depends if they leave or don’t leave. Some players stay, some players leave. It depends on the squad, it depends on young players and if you can rely on them or not in some moments.”

Only last week, Guardiola appeared to effectively confirm Phillips would not be able to turn things around at City, saying: “I visualise the team and I struggle a little bit to see him (in it).”

Several clubs have been linked with a January move for the Yorkshireman.

Asked specifically if Phillips’ situation could change things for City, Guardiola said: “Kalvin is a player with us, I don’t want to anticipate absolutely anything. Everyone knows the situation he has.

“It depends if it happens. If it happens we talk. The market in January is not easy…We still have incredible things to play for, and after we decide.”

Next week City will be playing for the Club World Cup for the first time in their history after last season’s treble success.

The team are due to fly to Saudi Arabia after Saturday’s match against Crystal Palace – with both Erling Haaland and the injured Kevin De Bruyne due to make the trip regardless of whether they will be fit to play.

“It’s a competition we have never won, everyone will be there,” Guardiola said.

“I want the players not to be desperate to win, (but) to play two games, win the first one and get the credit to play the final. If we don’t win it, hopefully we win the Champions League in the future to be back. Two football games, do what we have to do.

“We learn from the Champions League in the past. In life you don’t know what will happen… the motivation, the feeling we’ve never won, it’s important. Winning helps to win. Winning against Palace will help by far.”

As enticing as the prize on offer next week is, Guardiola warned against looking past Saturday’s match.

“This is my job, I will warn (the players) or let them know,” he said. “It has always been difficult with Roy (Hodgson), or Patrick (Vieira) before, Crystal Palace have always been tough.

“Everyone has to be involved to play quick, be patient, transitions, set-pieces, good on second balls, the physicality is amazing. Always we struggle.

“At Selhurst Park it’s normal, but at Selhurst Park we perform better than at the Etihad. It happened, we lost a lot of points, they do it really well.”

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.

Pep Guardiola believes his Manchester City side face a challenge to get back to winning ways at Luton this weekend.

The champions have gone four games without a Premier League win for the first time since 2017 after successive draws against Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham were followed by defeat at Aston Villa on Wednesday.

They will be expected to put that behind them at Kenilworth Road on Sunday but the promoted Hatters have produced some battling performances on their top-flight return and Guardiola expects another.

The City manager said: “They are doing really well for the way they play. Top clubs like Liverpool and Arsenal have struggled to win against them and it will be no different for us.

“But at the same time we’re ready for the challenge. We’ll keep working. That’s what we have to do.

“We’ll go to Luton, adapt for the pitch, the team, the style they play. They’ve done really good things but we will try impose our game and break their dynamic.”

City’s form has raised eyebrows with some observers questioning their hunger or whether they have become complacent after all their recent successes.

Yet none of this is a concern to Guardiola, who has guided City to five Premier League titles as well as Champions League glory.

The Spaniard said: “When you are winning a lot of games you are the best team in the world, when you are not winning it’s a crisis. We know it. It’s always exaggerated one way or another.

“What is important is to face the reality. We’re not used to playing four games without winning but we played against top teams. They’re always difficult.

“It is not the first time we have been in this position. In these eight years we’ve always had periods where we don’t get results.

“We have to try to end them as soon as possible but it happens, so we face it, challenge it. That is the situation, let’s do it, let’s go for it.”

City have Rodri and Jack Grealish available again after suspension and Jeremy Doku will be assessed after missing the Villa game through injury.

Erling Haaland shrugged off injury to score twice as holders Manchester City reached the Champions League last 16 with a comfortable 3-0 win over 10-man Young Boys.

The prolific Norwegian took his tally for the season to 15 with a penalty and a long-range strike as City eased past the Swiss champions at the Etihad Stadium to secure their fourth successive Group G win.

Phil Foden also got on the scoresheet as City, securing their place in the knockout stages for an 11th successive season, overran opponents who failed to muster a single shot and had Sandro Lauper sent off in the second half.

Typically, it was Haaland who stole the show having overcome the ankle problem that forced him off against Bournemouth on Saturday.

Pep Guardiola could have rested his attacking spearhead with Sunday’s trip to Chelsea in mind but resisted and was rewarded with a clinical performance.

Six changes were made with Jeremy Doku, Rodri and Bernardo Silva among those dropped to the bench, but the returning Foden and Jack Grealish brought further firepower.

City, without getting anywhere top gear, were far too strong for the lacklustre visitors and dictated the game at their will.

Young Boys’ only spark came from their lively fans, who after making a colour-coordinated entrance in black or yellow depending on which tier they were seated, let off fireworks in the second half.

City should have taken an early lead after Mateo Kovavic played in Grealish with a superb through-ball and his cut-back presented Rico Lewis with a gilt-edged chance. Lewis attempted to sidefoot the ball home but Loris Benito cleared off the line.

Kovacic then linked well with Haaland, who was tripped on the edge of the area. Kyle Walker drilled the resulting free-kick at Anthony Racioppi and the keeper got up quickly to deny Foden on the rebound.

The inevitable opener came on 23 minutes after Matheus Nunes was tripped just inside the area by Lauper who – having been booked moments earlier – escaped a second yellow card on this occasion.

Haaland made no mistake as he sent Racioppi the wrong way from the spot.

Haaland threatened to grab his second as he homed in on a Walker cross but a slight deflection off a defender wrong-footed him as he shaped to shoot.

City doubled their lead just before the interval as Foden cut inside from a superb Grealish pass and brushed off a challenge from Ulisses Garcia to drill in from a tight angle.

Haaland added the third early in the second half after a storming break from Lewis, lashing home powerfully on the turn after taking a touch just outside the area.

Young Boys’ woes were compounded moments later when Lauper finally received his second booking following a bad challenge on substitute Nathan Ake.

Haaland was withdrawn just after the hour and City professionally saw out the remainder of the game with Kovacic and substitute Kalvin Phillips having further chances.

Rodri will serve a three-match suspension for his sending-off against Nottingham Forest – but how much will Manchester City miss their midfield lynchpin?

Here, the PA news agency looks at the Spaniard’s impact in Pep Guardiola’s side.

“A big miss”

Rodri’s influence has increasingly been recognised over last season and this, peaking with his winning goal and player-of-the-match display in the Champions League final.

Team-mate Phil Foden said after Saturday’s game: “He is one of our most important players and he seems to play all the minutes. He is going to be a big miss.”

While not quite ever-present, Rodri led all City outfielders in playing time last season and had played all but 21 minutes in this season’s Premier League prior to his dismissal for tangling with Forest’s Morgan Gibbs-White.

The 27-year-old Spain international leads the Premier League in passes and overall touches of the ball this term, still 67 passes and 87 touches clear of second-placed Brighton defender Lewis Dunk even after his dismissal, and trailed only Dunk in both categories last season.

He is also City’s leader this season and last in tackles and, while the same is true for fouls committed, he had up to now avoided serving a suspension since his arrival at the club in the summer of 2019.

The former Atletico Madrid man had eight Premier League bookings and 11 in all competitions in his first season but has had no more than six in the league or nine overall since then, while Saturday’s was the first red card of his career for club or country.

He ranks third for the club this season in shots and has been outscored by only Erling Haaland in the league and, additionally, Julian Alvarez in all competitions as he seemingly takes on some of the attacking duties left by Ilkay Gundogan’s summer departure.

Call for Kalvin

Gundogan was not the only high-profile player to leave City this summer and, coupled with injuries and now Rodri’s ban, Guardiola’s midfield options are rapidly dwindling.

Kevin De Bruyne lasted 23 minutes of the new league season before aggravating a hamstring injury, with Bernardo Silva and Mateo Kovacic also currently sidelined along with defender John Stones, who excelled in a hybrid role last season.

Summer signing Matheus Nunes and forgotten man Kalvin Phillips could therefore have major roles to play – England international Phillips, who came on in the second half against Forest, has played barely 400 minutes of league football since joining from Leeds last summer.

Foden could also operate in a deeper role but options on the wing are not plentiful either, with Riyad Mahrez and Cole Palmer leaving this summer while Jack Grealish has only just returned from a knee problem. Jeremy Doku has hit the ground running while Alvarez has been used more regularly as a foil for Haaland up front.

Pep Guardiola admitted he was angry with Rodri after the influential midfielder was sent off in Manchester City’s 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest.

The Spain international was dismissed early in the second half of Saturday’s Premier League clash at the Etihad Stadium after raising his hands to the neck of Forest’s Morgan Gibbs-White.

Rodri protested at the time, and there was a delay before referee Anthony Taylor’s decision was upheld by VAR, but Guardiola claimed there could be no excuses for his conduct.

The City manager said: “Hopefully Rodri will learn. The game was perfect with 35 minutes gone and after it became chaos.

“That’s not our responsibility, that’s for sure, but Rodri has to control himself and his emotions. I can get a yellow card but Rodri can’t. I don’t play. The guys inside (the pitch) have to be careful.

“I said at half-time, ‘Be careful guys, relax, control your emotions’. Unfortunately, Rodri could not do it. Now we have to accept the decisions.”

Asked if he was angry with Rodri, Guardiola said: “Yes. I don’t like to play with 10 for our faults. He has apologised.”

Despite being critical of Rodri, Guardiola was not happy with the way the game was controlled by Taylor.

As well as Rodri’s red card, there were 11 bookings during the game, including one for Guardiola himself.

Guardiola said: “The referee changed the game.

“For the first 35 minutes, it was absolutely not (a bad game). What changed? What happened after 2-0, it’s not down to us. You have to ask the other ones but I don’t know if they will hang up the phone.”

City had put themselves into a comfortable lead with goals inside the first 14 minutes from Phil Foden and Erling Haaland.

After Rodri’s departure, the hosts needed to change approach and Guardiola was pleased with the outcome.

He said: “Our game in the first 35 minutes was beyond good, how we find our men free, it was really, really good.

“It was a lot of minutes we had to defend, and we conceded one chance in the 94th minute. We didn’t concede anything else, against a team who won at Stamford Bridge and created problems at Arsenal and Old Trafford.

“I’m really satisfied and pleased for all of us.”

Forest manager Steve Cooper had conflicting thoughts about his side’s performance.

He said: “We had a really poor start in terms of goals conceded. We knew the level of the challenge we faced here – it doesn’t get any tougher – and the two City goals were of great quality, typical City goals.

“But we’d planned for that. It was a repeat tactic and to let it happen as easily as they did – if they were going to score I wanted it to be with real difficulty.

“The game changes with the red card. That we had a second half played in City’s half I have mixed feelings about.

“You rarely get an opportunity to have that territory here. Even more experienced teams don’t get anywhere near that but we need to make more of these opportunities. We have got to be more productive.”

Manchester City’s match-winner Rodri has been named Champions League player of the year by UEFA as seven City players made the team of the season and Erling Haaland took goal of the season honours.

Rodri’s 68th-minute strike made the difference as City beat Inter Milan 1-0 in Istanbul to lift the European Cup and complete a remarkable treble.

And on Sunday the 26-year-old was named player of the season by UEFA’s technical observer panel.

Rodri played in all but one of City’s Champions League matches this season, with Saturday’s match-winner his second goal in the tournament this campaign.

The Spain midfielder was joined by six club mates in the team of the season as Haaland, Kevin De Bruyne, John Stones, Ruben Dias, Bernardo Silva and Kyle Walker were all included.

Inter’s Federico Dimarco and Alessandro Bastoni were also selected along with Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and forward Vinicius Junior.

City also scooped the goal of the season award through Haaland for his acrobatic strike against former club Borussia Dortmund during the group stages, when he twisted to turn Joao Cancelo’s curling pass into the net during City’s 2-1 win.

Manchester City have learned from past failures in Europe as they prepare to face Inter Milan in the Champions League final, according to Rodri.

City were beaten to the trophy in 2021 by Chelsea after a 1-0 defeat in Porto before throwing away a late lead to crash out against Real Madrid in the semi-final a year ago.

It leaves Europe’s top competition as the only major honour the club has yet to land, but they go into next Saturday’s meeting with the Serie A side in Istanbul as firm favourites to complete an historic treble.

The second leg of that feat was achieved with a 2-1 victory against Manchester United in the FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday, with a goal in either half from Ilkay Gundogan sealing the win and adding the cup to the Premier League title they won in May.

With Europe’s biggest prize having continued to elude them, Rodri pointed to last month’s sensational win against Real in the last four as confirmation that the team can right the wrongs of previous seasons.

“As I tell you before, we try to learn a lot from the past,” he said.

“It’s something you learn and I think the desire…how we played Real Madrid, for example, before a defeat there last year, so we’re going to play in the same way, trying to solve the situation, come back from the situation and try to win the final.”

The 4-0 victory at the Etihad against the reigning European champions that sent them to Istanbul saw City at their dazzling best, Bernardo Silva scoring twice together with goals from Manuel Akanji and Julian Alvarez to complete a 5-1 aggregate win.

It was in stark contrast to the feeling surrounding the club as they were eliminated by the same opponent at the same stage the previous campaign, letting a two-goal aggregate lead slip in the final minutes at the Bernabeu before losing in extra-time.

“I think that the experience is a very good point,” said Rodri. “Also the players that came in make a massive impact to give us extra every year. I think that the squad in general, you learn as a group. We try to innovate and push ourselves to the minute every time.

“I think Pep said that you will not be ‘big, big’ if you don’t win in Europe. It’s the exam we have to pass again. Another final and we are ready, that’s all I can say. I’m just going to push the guys to be ourselves. Be confident, be ourselves and try our best and fight for the final.

“We have a squad of 23 players and all of them have been important at some part of the season. The team wins trophies and the 23 were part of this from the first round until the end in the Premier League, the same in the Champions League to have into the final. The team is so important.”

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