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Guardiola wants to turn Champions League heartache to motivation

Pep Guardiola has urged his Manchester City players to use their Champions League heartache as motivation when they face Tottenham again on Saturday.

City were knocked out of the European competition in agonising fashion by Spurs on Wednesday as what would have been dramatic late Raheem Sterling winner at the Etihad Stadium was ruled out by VAR.

Manager Guardiola accepts such anguish is not something players will be able to shut out of their minds quickly but he feels they can turn it into a positive.

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Spurs are again the visitors as City’s attention switches to the Premier League title race this weekend.

Guardiola said: “If you believe it doesn’t hurt, or we (will) forget it, I would say no, I don’t want the players to forget what they lived.

“When people expect now we’ve forgotten what we lived on Wednesday for tomorrow, that is not the truth. We would not be human beings. It will take time.

“We have to live and play with that feeling. What we lived last Wednesday in terms of emotion and just simple life was incredible. We were fortunate to live it, we were lucky.

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“For a few seconds more than 55,000 joined in and were happy in the most exciting moment, then in one second we are all devastated. People cannot expect it to be over, it’s impossible. It will remain in our hearts.

“It will be always a pity but the performance we did was incredible, how well we played at this level. We were close at the end.

“This we try to put into our game at 12.30 tomorrow.”

City cannot afford any loss of momentum in the Premier League with Liverpool poised to take advantage of any slip-ups. City will retain their crown by winning their remaining five games but the Reds currently top the table by two points having played a game more.

Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur – UEFA Champions League – Quarter Final – Second Leg – Etihad Stadium

Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling thought he had scored the winning goal against Tottenham in their Champions League clash (Martin Rickett/PA)

The coming few days are critical for City with Saturday’s Spurs clash followed by a derby trip to Manchester United next Wednesday.

Guardiola said: “The title race is to win tomorrow at 12.30. What Liverpool do against Cardiff, Newcastle, other teams, I’m not involved. We have three games in a week against Tottenham, United and Burnley and the rest I cannot control.”

City’s loss to Spurs in midweek ended their chances of winning all four competitions this season.

Asked if he might at least be relieved not to be asked about the quadruple, Guardiola said at a press conference: “No. I would prefer to be in the semi-finals of the Champions League because the quadruple would be closer.”

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Despite the result, Guardiola was pleased with City’s performance against Spurs and believes the team will get their reward in that competition one day. City did still win the quarter-final second leg 4-3 but they went out on away goals.

Guardiola said: “They will get back what they deserve. I don’t know it if will be this season, next season or in three or four years.

“One day they will maybe in the same position and they will be more fortunate, luckier or more precise and we are able to go to the next stages.

“We did everything in both games. They were fantastic, the players. We lost but I am so proud.”