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Pep: We knew it would be tough

GIVING ORDERS: Pep gestures to his players on the touchline.

GIVING ORDERS: Pep gestures to his players on the touchline.

Pep Guardiola was not surprised by Middlesbrough's spirited display at The Riverside.

The City boss expected a difficult afternoon with the hosts battling hard to try and preserve their Premier League status.

The Blues were forced to come from behind twice to earn a point that could yet prove crucial in the race for a top four finish.

We were much better in the second half and created enough chances to win the game, but it’s not easy against a side like Middlesbrough who are fighting down at the bottom," said Guardiola.

"I think the fight for the top four will go down to the last game - everyone who is competing for those places have tough games so it will not be easy but we give absolutely everything in these last few matches to try and be in there.

DEEP IN DISCUSSION: Pep consoles with Rodolfo Borrell in the away dugout.

“Their first goal came from a counter-attack and their second was a typical goal that you see in England.

“In the first half we had problems to control their counter-attacks, but the second half was much better. We did absolutely everything to get the winner, but it wasn’t enough. It’s a point and we are still there and it now all depends on the final few games at the Etihad.”

Regarding Gabriel Jesus’ scoring return, the Blues’ boss added: “I am pleased for him but he needs time. He’s had three months out and has only had four training sessions. Ideally I wanted him to have 60 minutes, but what happened in the first half changed that but he is young and coped.”

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