Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has urged his players to learn the lessons of a madcap seven-goal thriller at Newcastle as they turn their attention to the Champions League final.
The Premier League champions eventually came out on top 4-3 at St James’ Park on Friday evening, and Guardiola admitted the release of tension and the excitement of winning the title had perhaps been a distraction.
He said: “It will be a good lesson, especially for Brighton and Everton and the final. We have to try to avoid it, but I can understand it completely because there has been a lot of tension during the last month with the Champions League quarter-final and semi-final and the league to try to finish.
“People say before, ‘It’s done, it’s done, it’s done’, but it’s just done when it’s really done. But the way and the spirit from the first minute, how they ran for 90 minutes, how they fought for every single ball, how many good things, good goals and a good victory.
“Now we are 13 points clear of United, so they are incredible numbers.”
City had to battle for everything they got on Tyneside after defender Emil Krafth headed the Magpies into a 25th-minute lead with his first goal for the club, and they were level six minutes before the break through Joao Cancelo’s defected strike and ahead three minutes later courtesy of Torres’ audacious flick.
Joelinton levelled from the spot six minutes into stoppage time at the end of the first half and and Willock converted the rebound after his 62nd-minute spot-kick had been saved by Scott Carson – playing his first Premier League game in 10 years – only for Torres to stab home a 64th-minute equaliser and then win it two minutes later after Cancelo’s shot had come back off the post.
Guardiola said: “It was a brilliant game for both sides. Unfortunately, there were no people in the stadium. (Newcastle are) an incredibly tough opponent like in the last years and always we struggle a lot to beat Newcastle here, even at home.
“They are so physically strong and they defend so deep with many, many players and after that, they have clever runs, Saint-Maximin and Joelinton and of course Almiron and Willock, so a top, top side.
“Yes, we conceded three goals from set-pieces, but I would say it’s normal after winning the Premier League and being distracted for one or two days and then just one training session. This normally happens.”
Torres’ treble capped a fine individual display and left his manager with food for thought.
Guardiola said: “He came as a winger – he can play both sides and has incredible runs in behind – but maybe I have to start to think that he could play as a striker because every time he plays in that position, he always has a sense of goal, a real sense of goal.”
Newcastle head coach Steve Bruce was philosophical after witnessing an enterprising display from his players which came up just short.
He said: “We’re delighted to score three times against them – that doesn’t happen to any team very often – but the one thing we needed to do to be brutally honest, we needed to defend better.
“We took the lead a couple of times, so we needed to defend better, but they’re such a good side – it’s remarkable how good they are. It was just disappointing that we didn’t take anything from it.”