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Guardiola craves cutting edge

China Daily | Updated: 2017-03-21 06:56

City boss rues missed chances after stalemate with Liverpool

 Guardiola craves cutting edge

Manchester City's John Stones slides in on Liverpool's Sadio Mane during their 1-1 English Premier League draw at Etihad Stadium in Manchester on Sunday. Dave Thompson / Ap

MANCHESTER - Sharper finishing is all that's required to take Manchester City to the next level, manager Pep Guardiola said after his side's 1-1 draw with Liverpool on Sunday.

Guardiola's cavalier approach came under scrutiny after City fell 3-1 at Monaco last week - a lost that eliminated it from the Champions League on away goals after a 6-6 aggregate draw.

Sergio Aguero's 69th-minute equalizer meant City emerged with a point from the end-to-end battle with Liverpool, but Guardiola said his forwards' lack of ruthlessness was holding the team back.

"When you score goals, after that the game is in your hands and you have more control," he said.

"We have clear chances in front of the goalkeeper and we don't score goals. That's why you cannot compete with the top teams.

"To achieve that target, you have to be clinical."

Aguero's strike, from Kevin De Bruyne's superb right-wing cross, canceled out former City player James Milner's 51st-minute penalty.

City squandered a glut of late chances, with Aguero particularly culpable. But despite identifying his side's profligacy as a key failing, Guardiola said there was nothing he could do to improve it.

"In my career I was a player for 11 years and I scored 11 goals. One goal a year," he said with a smile.

"So can you imagine what advice I can say to Sergio and the other guys about scoring goals? I don't think so.

"I think the managers can (coach) the defensive, the high pressing, the build-up. Every manager has his own things.

"But the box is the box. How you defend one cross is the quality because you are good at headers. When you score a goal it's because you have that talent."

City's point owed much to an alert defensive display by oft-criticized England international centerback John Stones, who produced two important blocks either side of halftime.

"John has more personality than all of us here together in this room. More balls than everyone here," Guardiola told reporters at Etihad Stadium.

"I love him. Under pressure, the people criticize him, so I am delighted to have John, mistakes and all."

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