The fairytale run of Manchester City in the Champions League ended on Wednesday night as the Citizens lost 1-0 to Real Madrid at Santigao Bernabeu.
Though Real Madrid were for obvious reasons the favourites to pull through to the Milan finals, many argue that City were largely undone by the conservative approach adopted by Manager Manuel Pellegrini for the semi final ties; especially the home leg at the Etihad Stadium.
Even with the absence of Ronaldo in the first leg City didn’t attack in either game and hardly threatened Real with just a handful of chances at goal.
Pellegrini said Real Madrid are “lucky” to be in the Champions League final after finally beating his City.
Gareth Bale’s first-half shot deflected in off Fernando’s foot and looped past a helpless Joe Hart.
And although Pellegrini admitted his side lacked creativity, he said Real were fortunate to progress to the final in Milan later this month.
“I’m not happy with the way we created,” he said. “We didn’t deserve to lose this game, Real were very lucky with the deflection and that goal give them more time to play.
“Not only our team, both teams couldn’t really create. Fernandinho had a chance against the post but missing David Silva and Samir Nasri and Toure coming back from an injury – we don’t have the creative players who could make a difference.
Samir Nasri was not included in the Champions League squad for the knockout rounds
“I think we worked very well, which is why Real couldn’t create chances but today we needed players who could make the difference in the final third and we couldn’t have that.
“None of the teams deserved to win and it should have gone to penalties. We didn’t see Real Madrid better than us, we were not creative enough to damage.
“Real Madrid was lucky with the goal and it was a deflection off one of our players but they didn’t control the goal so none of us. The creative level for both teams was not so good.
“I think the Real Madrid defence was good but none of these two teams was able to overcome the defence of the other one, neither in Manchester or Madrid.”
City’s night was made even more difficult after nine minutes when Vincent Kompany went off with what looked to be a groin problem.
It’s the defender’s fifth separate injury this season and there are now serious doubts about whether he can be relied upon to play as regularly as City need him to.
Pellegrini said it disrupted his side but suggested it was their lack of cutting edge that really damaged them.
“It is not the best thing to change the defender after six minutes,” he said. “But our problem is that we were not very creative in the final third.
Pellegrini admitted it was a missed opportunity – but said his side gave their all.
“Of course if you don’t reach the final you miss an opportunity,” he said. “We played against a very strong team that was not better than our team.
“It’s not the reason why we don’t win the game. We tried but couldn’t.”