Mauricio Pochettino has admitted that his Paris Saint-Germain side’s first-leg defeat by Manchester City in the Champions League semi-finals was especially “painful” due to the nature of the visitors’ goals.
Kevin De Bruyne’s equaliser saw the Belgium midfielder swing a cross towards the back post, with the ball travelling all the way into the back of Keylor Navas’ net.
Riyad Mahrez then struck a City free-kick through the PSG wall to give the Premier League club the advantage heading into the second leg in Manchester.
“I think there were two different halves. I think the first half, we really did well,” Pochettino told BT Sport.
“It’s difficult to dominate a team like Manchester City. Of course, I think we created chances and we deserved the goal, to [go to] the dressing room with the advantage.
“But second half, I think they were better than us and of course they dominated. I think it was one half for each.
“I think their two goals, we feel very disappointed. It was difficult to accept, and [that] it happened in the semi-final. That is really, really painful, that it happened in this moment.”
PSG looked sharp and dangerous for the entirety of the first half as City struggled. But the hosts faded after the break as City improved.
“I think for us it was difficult to cope with the physical conditions,” Pochettino said. “I think they were a little bit more aggressive and for us it was difficult to recover the ball – sometimes a lot of possession for Manchester City.
“We didn’t show this energy that you need, when you recover the ball, to stay in possession and try to force them to go deep. I think that was what happened.”
PSG midfielder Idrissa Gueye was sent off on 77 minutes for a late, reckless tackle on Ilkay Gundogan. When asked whether the challenge was the result of Paris’ frustration in not being able to win back the ball, Pochettino said: “No, it was an action [of] the brain.
“It can be yellow, can be red. I don’t want to complain about that. It was an individual action.”
Pochettino added, however, that the French champions – who were runners-up under Thomas Tuchel in last season’s Champions League – are not out of the tie yet.
“In football you need to believe and go there in six days, and try to approach the game like today,” the Argentine said.
“Try to win, to score goals. Of course now the advantage is a little bit with Manchester City, but in football you always need to try.”
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