Soccer

Pep Guardiola urges Man City to cement greatness by winning Champions League

Pep Guardiola (left) has urged Manchester City to cement their greatness by winning the Champions League (Martin Rickett/PA)
Pep Guardiola (left) has urged Manchester City to cement their greatness by winning the Champions League (Martin Rickett/PA)

Pep Guardiola urged his Manchester City team to cement their greatness by winning the Champions League following their latest FA Cup success.

City completed the domestic double for a second time under Guardiola as they overpowered rivals Manchester United 2-1 at Wembley on Saturday.

Ilkay Gundogan scored both goals, including a stunning volley after just 12 seconds – the fastest goal in FA Cup final history – as City proved far too strong for their neighbours.

Yet, for all their success in recent years, which also includes five Premier League titles and four Carabao Cups, Champions League glory has eluded them.

They will have the chance to put that right and secure a glorious treble when they face Inter Milan in next week’s final in Istanbul.

City manager Guardiola said: “Everybody knows it. We have done incredible seasons – five Premier Leagues, two FA Cups, Carabao Cups, but we have to win the Champions League to be recognised like the team deserves to be recognised.

“We have to admit it, without the Champions League – it has been amazing, it has been fun – but we are missing (something). We have to do it.

“We are one game away. I would say it is incredible, remarkable, that in three years we have had two finals and one semi-final of the Champions League.

“But in the end we have to win it. I know how it works. I said to the players, ‘You have to put the pressure on yourself. To be recognised as something good you have to win in Europe’.”

Before they fully switch focus to Inter, City can reflect on another superb trophy-winning performance.

Things did not all go their way. United pegged them back after Gundogan’s rapid opener with a Bruno Fernandes penalty after Jack Grealish was controversially adjudged to have handled following a VAR review.

Yet they responded early in the second half as Kevin De Bruyne picked out Gundogan on the edge of the area from a free-kick and the German volleyed in his second.

From then on, Guardiola’s side kept a tight grip on the contest and duly closed out the club’s seventh FA Cup triumph.

Guardiola said: “It was the best way to start a final. There was still more than 90 minutes left but it was important.

“In general we played a really good game. We played with a lot of risk because the threat they have up front is so big, especially with (Marcus) Rashford, but we controlled it really well.

“A final against United is always, for many reasons, difficult but the better team won. We are humble enough to accept how good they are and we did it. We’re really pleased.

“Winning the FA Cup, the emotions are so, so special and to celebrate with our people, it is really great.”

Gundogan has enjoyed a fine end to the season and can now add an FA Cup final-winning double to the two goals he scored to clinch the Premier League title in the closing game of last season.

Manchester City v Manchester United – Emirates FA Cup Final – Wembley Stadium
Ilkay Gundogan is out of contract at Manchester City in the summer (Adam Davy/PA)

The midfielder is out of contract in the summer and his latest superb display will increase the club’s desire to tie him to new terms.

Guardiola said: “He knows what I think. He’s a neighbour of mine. We’ve lived on the same floor for many years and he’s a close friend of mine.

“He’s an exceptional player and hopefully we can finish it (contract talks) in a good way. The season he has done is exceptional. He is very important for many reasons.”