Guardiola gaffe: The 70th-minute substitution that would have won Champions League tie – opinion

Manchester City crashed out of the Champions League despite beating Tottenham Hotspur 4-3 at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night, but it could have all been so different had manager Pep Guardiola brought Leroy Sane on to the pitch earlier.

The hosts had the result they needed to advance when Sergio Aguero made it 4-2 on the night with just over half-an-hour to play, but it was at that point that the Spanish boss made a mistake.

Instead of trying to go for the goal that would have put the tie out of sight, he instead brought on Fernandinho for David Silva four minutes later.

You can understand his thinking in many ways to try and bring some calm to what was a completely crazy encounter, and he perhaps could have got away with it as long as he brought Sane on to the pitch shortly afterwards.

Instead, they were pegged back on aggregate when Fernando Llorente in the 73rd minute, but even then Guardiola waited another 11 minutes before bringing the Germany international on for Benjamin Mendy.

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The 23-year-old had little time to make an impact and get at what was a tired Tottenham backline, and the night was to end in disappointment for the Cityzens when Raheem Sterling’s last-gasp goal was ruled out by VAR.

While he deserves so many plaudits for the impact he has made during his time on the blue side of Manchester, the former Barcelona boss cost his side here by being too negative.

Had he introduced Sane 15 minutes earlier it would have given Mauricio Pochettino’s men an extra attacking threat to deal with, and that would have been vital to their tie and seen them progress to a semi-final shoot-out with Ajax.

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