Pep Guardiola told his Manchester City players just how happy he was with their performance immediately after their 1-1 draw with Liverpool, goalkeeper Willy Caballero has said.
The City manager was delighted with the spirit of his side at bouncing back from being knocked out of the Champions League on away goals to Monaco four days earlier.
Guardiola told a news conference after the game it was “one of happiest days of my career as a manager,” after Sergio Aguero’s 69th-minute equaliser rescued a point to keep City third.
And Caballero, who made a number of fine stops in a game full of chances for both sides, said the players were given the same message in the dressing room after the match.
“The same that he said in the press conference he said to us, he was really proud,” Caballero told reporters. “It was difficult to start this game. It is Liverpool, a massive game, but after a big defeat against Monaco we suffered a lot after the elimination but we did it again. We played very well, with spirit, with mentality, with everything.
“We left everything on the pitch and we had chances until the last minute. So, to be a coach and see your team play this way, it is going to be magnificent to see.”
City fell behind to a James Milner penalty in the 51st minute after Gael Clichy was adjudged to have bundled over Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino.
It was one of a number of tough decisions for referee Michael Oliver, who turned down a number of penalty appeals for both sides and Caballero had sympathy for the official.
“The job for the ref sometimes is busy. This was a tough game, really good play from both teams. The decision of the referee we can say nothing,” Caballero, who saved three Liverpool penalties in City’s Capital One Cup victory last season, said.
“I didn’t see [anything]. Probably for him it was a clear penalty but in the first half we had a clear one as well.
“I was just concentrating on taking the right decision, but this time I didn’t have the luck that I had last time.”
The result keeps City in third place — a point above Liverpool with a game in hand — and Caballero says it’s vital that they finish in the top four to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
“This is our trophy now. We are fighting every single game to be in the four who qualify for the Champions League,” he added.
“The way that we lost against Monaco, the most important thing for us is to be there the next year, in the Champions League again.
“We have to win the next game to in those kind of positions and fight until the end because it is going to be a really difficult run because the rest of the teams are fighting a lot.”