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'It happened again' - Guardiola refuses to criticise Man City players after Spurs defeat

23:10 EAT 02/02/2020
Pep Guardiola Manchester City 2019-20
The Manchester City boss felt Oleksandr Zinchenko's second-half sending off was a "key point" which allowed Spurs to seize the initiative in the match

Pep Guardiola has expressed his belief that Manchester City are not getting the results that their performances deserve at the moment, in the wake of a damaging defeat at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Spurs earned a 2-0 home win over the Premier League holders on Sunday, thanks to second-half goals from debutant Steven Bergwijn and Son Heung-min.

City squandered several clear cut opportunities in the first half, with Sergio Aguero hitting the post and Ilkay Gundogan missing a penalty kick.

The game was evenly poised until Oleksandr Zinchenko was shown a second yellow card for a professional foul on the hour mark, reducing the visitors to ten men.

Bergwijn produced a stunning piece of improvisation to volley home moments later, before Son's deflected effort condemned City to their sixth defeat of the season.

Guardiola refused to criticise his players post-match, but he was frustrated to see Zinchenko sent off after warning against ill-discipline at the interval. 

"We played well but lost the game," he said. "It happened again. They had two shots and scored two goals.

"I don't have too many things to say about the performance. We have to accept it and analyse it. It is not easy. We did really well, honestly.

"With this performance, how should I be critical? This performance would be an incredible mistake to say how bad they are. We created chances and conceded few.

"A few times this season it has happened. The sending off was a key point. We said at half-time be careful, yellow cards are a fast and quick action."

The result leaves City 22 points adrift of Liverpool at the top of the Premier League, with their hopes of a third successive title all but up in smoke.

The Blues are, however, still in contention for three major trophies, having already reached the Carabao Cup final, Champions League knockout stages and the fifth round of the FA Cup.

Guardiola has admitted that his time at Etihad Stadium will probably be considered a failure if he fails to deliver European success, with a tough last 16 tie against Real Madrid looming large on the horizon.

City will now take some time off over the Premier League's winter break, before returning to action with a home fixture against West Ham on February 9.