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Pellegrini: We were beaten by the better team



Manuel Pellegrini admitted that City must improve in Europe after bowing out of the Champions League to Barcelona.

City went down 3-1 over the two legs, after a 1-0 defeat at the Nou Camp during which Sergio Aguero missed a penalty and Joe Hart gave a sensational performance to repeatedly deny Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar from extending the hosts’ lead.

Speaking at full time, Pellegrini pointed to European progress over the last two years, but bemoaned a knockout draw that left City facing Barcelona in the round of 16 for the second consecutive campaign.

“We lost against a better team, without doubt. It is very difficult to beat Barcelona, especially with Messi,” the Chilean declared.

“We all want to continue in the Champions League , but we need to improve in Europe. In the last two years we have improved because we have qualified for the last 16. In both of those years we have played against Barcelona, but in the other years we didn’t qualify past the group stage.

“Maybe it was not our best chance to continue in Europe this year because we have important restrictions on the amount of players and amount of money we can spend, so it was a difficult year for our team in that sense.

“But I think if we weren’t drawn against Barcelona we might have had a chance to continue.”

The boss was pleased with the desire shown during the game and praised a second half performance in which City carved out a number of decent opportunities.

However, he felt City conceded possession in the first half too easily and was frustrated by his side’s inability to convert key chances.

Pellegrini explained:  “In the first half we lost too many easy balls, we have technical players and we must keep more of the ball. However, I think Barcelona played very, very well which is why we didn’t create many chances in the first half.  

"We needed to score two goals and we thought it might happen had we scored the penalty. That was a very important moment because we had 15 minutes more to play.

“In the second half we created more when we had to take the risk to go forward but I think in the first half we could have done better with the ball.

“Maybe we can think about what would have happened if we had scored the penalty but we didn’t and finally they won the game.”

Asked about the change in formation from the Etihad Stadium ,which saw Sergio Aguero lead the line alone rather than playing alongside Edin Dzeko, Pellegrini said: “In the four games we have played against Barcelona we have played with four different formations, so it is not a problem. The problem is the performance.”

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