Huddersfield earned a hard-fought replay against Manchester City
As Manchester City’s four-game winning run came to an abrupt halt, a manager whose Barcelona and Bayern Munich teams produced champagne football saw his side lose their fizz at the John Smith’s Stadium.
So now he has a new experience. “I will play a replay for the first time in my life,” said Guardiola.
Because the side third in the Championship held the team second in the Premier League. Over 90 minutes, a gap of 21 league places and a gulf of hundreds of millions of pounds mattered not.
Pep Guardiola has never played a replay before
Huddersfield were City’s equals, playing at pace, showing why boss David Wagner’s best man and footballing soulmate is Jurgen Klopp.
His team came closest to scoring. Philip Billing fired home from an acute angle, only for Huddersfield’s celebrations to be cut short by an offside flag.
And City were also grateful to a goalkeeper who had been a liability. Claudio Bravo had not made a save for 47 days. He had conceded to each of the last six shots on target he faced. But, brought back, he made superb saves from Jack Payne’s free kick and Rajiv la Parra’s low shot.
Manchester City couldn't find a way past a resolute Huddersfield defence
“He was brilliant,” said Guardiola. He made eight changes. “Huddersfield rotated, too,” said the City boss. As Bravo’s wait came to an end, another of City’s out-of-form players almost ended an even longer drought. Jesus Navas had not scored for 13 months but had a shot cleared off the line by Mark Hudson.
Sergio Aguero also returned to the starting 11. He had three chances, was twice denied by Huddersfield’s second-string goalkeeper Joel Coleman and went a sixth game without a goal. Too often, City lacked quality. Throughout, Huddersfield were defiant.
“A clean sheet against Manchester City makes our chest bigger,” said boss Wagner. “We wanted to show we are one of the fittest teams in the competition and we are aggressive and brave enough.”
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