Manuel Pellegrini: Manchester City manager not worried despite another opening Champions League defeat to Juventus

Manchester City 1 Juventus 2

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The Independent Football

Manuel Pellegrini insisted that a third Champions League opening day defeat for Manchester City in five years in the competition was by no means an insurmountable problem, and pointed out that the club had qualified for the second round from similarly unpromising situations before.

City went down 2-1 to Juventus having led before the hour, only to concede goals to Mario Mandzukic and Alvaro Morata in the last 20 minutes of the game. Pellegrini also lost Vincent Kompany to injury and was forced to send on Sergio Aguero in the latter stages to chase the equaliser.

In five years in the competition, City have only once won their first group game – away against Czech side Viktoria Plzen in 2013. They have never won their opening home game in the competition. Asked whether City had learned the lesson of previous years, Pellegrini said that he was not concerned by the problems the club had endured in the past.

He said: “I don’t think we need to learn from other years. The last two seasons we started losing the first game and qualified for the next stage. We are just starting. We never want to lose here at home. We never want to lose important points.

“We have 15 points more to play for. It depends on the way we play in the next games. We have to play against Juventus there [in Italy] and have another four games. We will see who has the more points by the end.”

He added: “I think it was a strange game. I don’t think we deserved to lose. We played better than Juventus. We had three clear opportunities to score. [Gianluigi] Buffon made some very good saves and I think we were very unlucky especially for the first goal. We controlled the game.”

This was only Juventus’ second win of a season that has stuttered on the domestic front so far. For City, the two goals from the Italian champions were the first they have conceded all season. The own goal scored by Giorgio Chiellini should have been disallowed for a foul by Kompany. Pellegrini said his captain had injured his calf and would be assessed on Wednesday.

There were two good chances for Raheem Sterling which were both saved by the game’s outstanding player, Buffon. Pellegrini said: “I expect that when we have chances we must score. The differences are very slight [small] especially against a strong team like Juventus. Maybe Juventus didn’t create so many but they had a strong finish.

“I don’t think this result is just because of Raheem. We control the game and didn’t have many problems but football is like that.” Pellegrini said that it had been a “risk” to throw Aguero on in the closing stages but that the Argentine had come through it and should be fit to face West Ham on Saturday.

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