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Guardiola: ‘Nice’ Man City must improve to win Champions League

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Pep Guardiola feels improvements are required if Manchester City are going to challenge for the Champions League following Wednesday’s 3-2 first leg at Schalke 04 in their last-16 tie.

Following Sergio Aguero’s 18th-minute opener at the VELTINS-Arena, City appeared to be on course for an expected victory against Schalke in Germany.

But two Nabil Bentaleb penalties before half-time swung the game into Schalke’s favour after VAR ruled that Nicolas Otamendi handballed in the area and Fernandinho fouled Salif Sane.

To make matters worse for City, defender Otamendi was sent-off in the 68th-minute following his second yellow card of the game after previously being booked for his handball offence.

But substitute Leroy Sane, who formerly played for Schalke, came to the rescue for 10-man City by scoring a superb free-kick from 30 yards to put the scoreline back level.

Raheem Sterling the scored a 90th-minute winner for the Premier League champions to complete a stunning 3-2 comeback victory at Schalke.

However, two-time Champions League winner Guardiola concedes that City have a long way to go yet before they can challenge for the big prize.

“To go away and score three goals, the way we start, the way we finish, the way we react at half time – I am more than delighted,” Guardiola told the club website.

“But it’s not enough in this competition. We have them first goal, we gave them second and the red card.

“We need to improve. We are a nice team to watch. I don’t know how far we can get but we are nice to watch.

“I know because I was living here [in Germany], and I remember as a player, how difficult it is. Always it’s tough. We gave them opportunities to be in the game and we have to improve.”

The Catalan coach refused to criticise VAR, despite the decisions the system made against his team that saw Schalke being awarded two penalties.

“It’s a penalty,” he said. “VAR last season against Liverpool would change the game for us.

“I am a big fan of VAR.

“It will improve. When a new system starts, it’s like managers. People expect you to win every game 6-0.

“VAR will improve, the machine broke, okay, next time it will be better.

“I support the initiative because I support fair football.”

GELSENKIRCHEN, GERMANY – FEBRUARY 20: Leroy Sane #19 of Manchester City celebrates with team mates after scoring his team’s second goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 First Leg match between FC Schalke 04 and Manchester City at Veltins-Arena on February 20, 2019 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty Images)