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Men's Football Guardiola: Champions League opponents more important than United rivalry

Stoke 0-2 Man City

PEP GUARDIOLA said last night that his side’s Champions League quarter-final is more important than the upcoming derby against Manchester United.

The Manchester City manager was speaking after his side’s victory against Stoke City, where two goals from the majestic David Silva saw them retain their 16-point lead at the top of the table.

The Man City fans continue to remind their local rivals, and particularly their manager Jose Mourinho, that they are “16 in front” but their own manager has his sights set on more silverware.

“Before and after United, we have the quarter-finals and at the moment that is the most important thing to focus on,” said Guardiola.

“I understand for the fans, OK, but the important thing is to be champions. When, where doesn’t matter.”

Gabriel Jesus was back in Man City’s Premier League line-up, with Sergio Aguero out injured, and the Brazilian helped create the opening goal.

His link-up play in front of the Stoke defence released Raheem Sterling down the right and the English attacker crossed for Silva who had drifted into the space previously occupied by Jesus.

The striker was also involved in the second, looping the ball into Silva’s path following a typically flowing team move.

Stoke weren’t necessarily bad but their opponents didn’t allow them to be good, even with a fairly attacking front three of Jese, Xherdan Shaqiri and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.

The home side’s biggest chance came when Shaqiri embarrassed Man City’s young Ukrainian left back Oleksandr Zinchenko, feeding the ball through his legs before darting around him and setting up Badou Ndiaye whose shot was deflected wide.

Sterling had a chance to make it three towards the end of the game when referee Jon Moss allowed Man City to take a quick free-kick, but the 23-year-old was foiled by Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland following a poor touch.

“Their movement and speed on the ball make the pitch really big,” said Stoke manager Paul Lambert.

“I can understand why they’re going to win the league.”

Guardiola’s side will learn their Champions League quarter-final opponents on Friday, where they take a break from some warm weather training in Abu Dhabi to watch the draw.


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