Pep Guardiola admits Wembley pitch saved Manchester City from Tottenham equaliser

Guardiola also commended Riyad Mahrez after an emotional night for the Algerian goalscorer

Miguel Delaney
Wembley Stadium
Monday 29 October 2018 23:49
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Pep Guardiola praises Riyad Mahrez's mental strength after Leicester tragedy

Pep Guardiola conceded that the poor state of the Wembley pitch helped Manchester City beat Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley, as he felt that Erik Lamela would have scored his late chance had it not been for the condition of the grass.

With the game already having been supposed to take place on the Sunday at the new White Hart Lane, the stadium construction’s delay meant this fixture was rearranged and that the surface was ravaged after a series of NFL matches were played at Wembley.

That played its part in a peculiar match that culminated in a bad late miss for Lamela when he had he chance to equalise Riyad Mahrez’s opening goal, although replays showed the ball bobbled up just before the Argentine hit it. Guardiola expressed sympathy for the winger.

“Lamela had a clear chance and due to the grass they did not score,” the Catalan said. “If the grass is good, Lamela with his quality in his left foot is in a better position to score a goal.”

“Of course it’s a good victory, for the conditions and the tough opponents. Congratulations to both sides

“Of course it was a good victory against a tough opponent, one of the more physical opponents I have faced in my career. Congratulations to both sides because it was a good game in difficult conditions with the pitch.

“To play a football game in that pitch is not easy. That’s why there were many mistakes that usually should not happen…”

Erik Lamela missed a glorious opportunity towards the end of the match

Guardiola meanwhile said he did not have to give Mahrez any special talk before the game, on what was clearly an emotional night for the Algerian after the tragic death of his former boss at Leicester City, Vishai Srivaddhanaprabha. Mahrez dedicated his winning strike to the club owner who was responsible for that sensational 205-16 title win, of which Mahrez was such a star.

“Of course all of us spoke with him about how he feels. Of course it’s a big loss for all the families and Leicester especially. Riyad was part of that for many, many years. It was tough but I did not speak with him in terms of how he felt to play today because I know how competitive he is and how he likes to play in big events, big stages. Sometimes playing games helps.”

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