Pep Guardiola admits Manchester City were deservedly beaten by Southampton as they were “not prepared” for Wednesday’s EFL Cup quarter-final tie.
Below-strength City were defeated 2-0 by the Premier League’s bottom side at St Mary’s Stadium through goals from Sekou Mara and Moussa Djenepo.
City made five changes for the contest, which followed three days on from an FA Cup third-round win against Chelsea and precedes Saturday’s derby against Manchester United.
The visitors failed to register a single shot on target for the first time in a game this season, while their overall tally of seven shots is also a new low for the campaign.
After City suffered defeat inside 90 minutes of an EFL Cup tie for just the third time in 30 matches under Guardiola, the Catalan coach accepted his side were second best.
“The better team won,” he told BBC Sport. “We didn’t play good. We didn’t play well in the start. There are many games you can start not good but recover and we didn’t do it.
“When you are not prepared to play this game, you arrive one inch late and don’t score a goal. When you are prepared, you score the goal.
“Tonight was a bad night, the opponent was better so we have to congratulate them. To win games you have to deserve it and tonight we didn’t deserve it.”
Kevin De Bruyne was brought on at half-time as part of a triple substitution, while Erling Haaland entered the fray soon after, but neither could make an impact for City.
Defeat for City was just their fourth in 28 matches this season, and their first since returning to action following the World Cup break.
While it was a hugely disappointing outing for City, Southampton celebrated back-to-back wins for the first time under Nathan Jones, who had been under pressure following a poor start to his tenure.
Following Southampton’s second win in 16 meetings with City under Guardiola, Jones wants his players to push on in their battle to avoid relegation from the Premier League.
“We want to be hard to beat. This has to be our benchmark, the level we attain to. We had a lot of good situations today. It’s a step in the right direction,” he told Sky Sports.
“I’m really proud of the players, of myself and the coaches. We’ve gone through a lot recently, people questioning a lot of things.
“That goes a little way to justifying why we’re here and what team we’re trying to create. I’m really proud of the club tonight and how we’ve come through a tough time.”
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