We are in the final - Guardiola hails ruthless City after Burton thrashing

By Sports Desk January 09, 2019

Pep Guardiola hailed Manchester City's rampant performance in their 9-0 win over Burton Albion and welcomed the chance to rest his stars for the second leg of their EFL Cup semi-final.

Defending champions City's place in next month's final is all but secured even before the return leg of the last-four clash after Gabriel Jesus scored four goals in Wednesday's rout.

Kevin De Bruyne, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Phil Foden, Kyle Walker and Riyad Mahrez also found the net on a miserable night for League One Burton.

Guardiola was proud to see his side continue to look for goals despite having the match wrapped up with four at half-time and is now looking forward to giving some members of his squad a break in their hectic schedule.

"We are in the final," the Spaniard told his post-match media conference. "Of course, we have to play the second game [and] we will take it seriously.

"Big congratulations to Burton for the tournament they have done, they have beaten teams from the Premier League and Championship, they deserve to be here.

"We scored the first goal quickly but the period between the first and second goal was not good, we didn't control our right side, they had a clear chance at 1-0.

"But the difference with Premier League teams is the quality of the players and the rhythm. When you have high intensity for 90 minutes they [drop] and that's why after the third and fourth goals it was easier.

"It was important to take advantage. We didn't expect to score so many goals but it is good because we are in the final, that's nice and to come back again means a lot for us.

"Every game is important, that is why we are satisfied to get back to Wembley."

He added: "Of course we will play some of the second team and players who don't play regularly [in the return leg], but in this incredible schedule we have a little bit of a break in that week to prepare for the other competitions."

Nigel Clough was proud of Burton's performance against the Premier League champions and urged his players not to get too disheartened and instead focus on their incredible run to the last four.

"I don't think we could've done too much more with the quality that is out there," he said. "They're professional. They never ease off. They don't just beat you, they annihilate you.

"We could do better with one or two but the gulf [in class] of the two teams is far too much to comprehend.

"We're talking about [Manchester] United, Arsenal and Chelsea bridging the gap … we've got no chance.

"We'll celebrate, it's not about tonight: it's about Burton Albion getting to the semi-final. We'll probably never be here again and that is how big this achievement is. A lot of clubs have never reached one."

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    City held a 1-0 lead at half-time thanks to Danilo's deflected drive, with Leroy Sane later telling Sky Sports that Guardiola "woke us up" at the interval.

    The Germany winger was particularly receptive to his manager's words – crossing for Raheem Sterling to covert a diving header before himself getting on the scoresheet.

    Speaking at his post-match news conference, Guardiola's satisfaction did not extend too far beyond the fact his reigning champions were back to within four points of league leaders Liverpool.

    "Today we are happy but after that we have to analyse what we have done, and if we want to win in future we will have to play better," he said.

    "The way we played, we didn't deserve more than three goals.

    "We will improve in the future. We have to demand more from ourselves in every game and do our best, but sometimes it's difficult. They defended deep and man to man.

    "In the second half we were better, especially the first 15. Our rhythm was not quick enough in the first half, but we would take that result.

    "I am honest with them and tell them all the time what I feel.

    "We have to try and find the reason why we didn't play quicker or better.

    "After what these guys have done in 16, 17 months, it can't be lack of intensity or not wanting to run.

    "We didn't make passes in a row, we had to move it quicker. We spoke about what we should do in the second half."

    Improvements should certainly be forthcoming from two of Guardiola's key players after Kevin De Bruyne completed 90 minutes for the first time in an injury-hit Premier League season, while Sergio Aguero was back in the starting line-up following a bout of illness.

    "Kevin played 90 minutes, that is good news. When you are a long time injured you need the rhythm," the former Barcelona boss added.

    "Sergio was sick, and he needs time, too. They are incredible players but they need rhythm."

    Next up, City have the formality of defending a 9-0 lead in the second leg of their EFL Cup semi-final against Burton Albion before an FA Cup fourth-round showdown at home to Burnley next weekend.

    Liverpool, by contrast, can rest up until hosting Leicester City on January 30.

    Guardiola, who confirmed record signing Riyad Mahrez was not injured despite being omitted from his matchday 18, added: "I would rather be in Liverpool’s position. All we can do is win our games. Improve, analyse our games and try to improve.

    "I cannot answer about Liverpool in every press conference. Now we have the EFL Cup. We will see."

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