Pep Guardiola believes Sergio Aguero’s opening goal changed the tide of the game for Manchester City as they handed Schalke 04 a 7-0 thrashing in the Champions League.
Despite the massive victory on Tuesday night, City got off to a rather nervous-looking start in what undoubtedly esteemed from the surprise comebacks that have come in the other last-16 ties of the last week.
Guardiola’s side, who headed into the return leg against Schalke on the back of winning the first leg 3-2 in Germany, took 35 minutes to break the deadlock through Aguero’s penalty.
The Argentine striker added a second just three minutes thanks to a clever little back-heel from Raheem Sterling before Leroy Sane scored against his old club Schalke to hand City a 3-0 lead heading into the break.
Sterling, Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and Gabriel Jesus all found the net in the second half to secure City a 10-2 aggregate victory over Schalke and a place in the quarter-finals.
“It was a clear result,” said Guardiola on the club website.
“We are happy to get to the quarter-finals.
“We didn’t start that well – we were a bit scared to play – but after it went 1-0, we relaxed and decided to play and be aggressive.
“We started the first 20 minutes to not lose what we achieved in Germany. That was why we didn’t over-attack. It was never the intention to be aggressive against the full-backs. It was: let’s not lose the ball.
“We didn’t lose what we achieved and that’s why we didn’t know what to do after the first goal! It was an excellent pass by Bernardo and then Gundogan, and then in the mind of the players, qualification is almost done.
“We played a good level. Of course, with qualification all but secured, it was tough for them and we kept the good level.”
The Catalan coach was satisfied with the way his injury-stricken team coped without the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, John Stones, Benjamin Mendy, Claudio Bravo and Fernandinho.
Nicolas Otamendi was also suspended for the match against Schalke due to his red card in the first leg.
“We have a lot of injured players – a lot of central defensive absences – so we want to continue this run and get those players back fit,” continued Guardiola.
“We had just Danilo, who was incredible. He played as a holding midfielder against Chelsea and that is what I like.
“Everyone has to compete with each other to play and they all want to play. Everybody tried to play, be bold and keep going.
“I would have like to be more in the first 20 minutes of who we are, but that was the situation. You cannot expect in 90 minutes to play like that.
“We were solid and we didn’t concede chances. The second half was incredible. We scored seven goals!
“I know Schalke are in a tough period because they lost the last game… but we had to do our job and we did it. We were serious and I am incredibly happy to be in the draw for the quarter-finals.”
City will discover their quarter-final opponents in Friday’s draw.
In the meantime, the Premier League champions will now turn their full focus on to Saturday’s trip to Swansea City for a FA Cup quarter-final tie.