Raheem Sterling missed a golden opportunity to equalise for Man City (Image: GETTY)
Raheem Sterling missed a guilt-edge chance to equalise for Manchester City before Lyon made it 3-1 in their quarter-final clash.
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola refused to put the blame solely on Raheem Sterling after the England international’s horror miss in the shock 3-1 Champions League exit at the hands of Lyon. City were strong favourites heading into their quarter-final clash against Lyon.
But they were given a rude awakening early on as Lyon took a 1-0 lead.
City fought back to draw level in the second half only for Lyon to regain their one-goal advantage through controversial circumstances.
Still, Guardiola’s side were the ones pushing and they should have equalised again when Gabriel Jesus found Sterling in acres of space just six yards out with the goal at his mercy.
Amazingly, the 25-year-old missed the target altogether with Lyon going on to make it 3-1 just second later.
But speaking after the game, Guardiola refused to put the blame on Sterling for City going out of the competition.
“In this situation you have to equalise to take it to extra time, but then we concede the third and it’s over. We created more chances and more shots,” he said.
“We are disappointed. We now go on holidays. Then we have to lift the players when they return to the club again.”
He added: “Sometimes you have to break this (barrier to the semis). The team over last few years deserve it. Maybe one day we’ll break this gap.”
Raheem Sterling was in disbelief at his miss (Image: GETTY)
Given the week had seen big teams such as Juventus, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona all being knocked out, City would have likely been looking at a potential first trip to the Champions League final.
But Guardiola named a surprisingly defensive line-up which included three central defenders.
Players such as David Silva, Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez were all left on the bench.
And Guardiola was made to pay for his conservative starting line-up as Maxwel Cornet gave Lyon a surprise lead midway through the first half.
City were pushing for an equaliser and the ever-reliable Kevin De Bruyne brought Guardiola’s level back to level terms.
That goal looked as though it had given City the drive to push on to find a winner, but they were pegged back once again in controversial fashion.
Moussa Dembele found himself in acres of space behind City’s high line as he nudged his effort past Ederson.
City players protested offside and for a foul on Aymeric Laporte in the build-up, but VAR ruled in favour of Lyon as the goal stood.
There was further heartbreak just minutes later as Raheem Sterling amazingly blazed over the var from just six yards out with an empty net in front of him.
And the game was over just seconds later as Dembele grabbed his second of the game after Ederson spilled a tame Houssem Aouar effort.
Guardiola was incensed on the touchline following Lyon’s second goal as Laporte appeared to be fouled by Dembele.
But the City boss was more philosophical after the game, insisting his team just weren’t good enough on the night.
“I don’t want to talk about these circumstances. It looks like I’m complaining and finding excuses,” he said.
“We did a lot of good things, but it wasn’t enough. We made mistakes in the boxes in key moments. We struggled to find our spaces to attack.”