Manchester City fall at home to Lyon in Guardiola's absence
Pep Guardiola watched helplessly from the stands as Manchester City, under the guidance of assistant Mikel Arteta, began their Champions League campaign with a 2-1 home defeat to Olympique Lyonnais on Wednesday.
The manager was serving a touchline ban due to angrily remonstrating with the referee during the second leg of last season’s quarter-final elimination to Liverpool, and in his absence City allowed two goals in the opening stanza to Maxwel Cornet and Nabil Fekir.
Leroy Sane surged past ex-Manchester United man Rafael before squaring for goalscorer Bernardo Silva after 67 minutes, but that was City’s only response in an untidy performance.
The result leaves City at the bottom of Group F after the first matchday, with Shakhtar Donetsk and Hoffenheim sharing the spoils in a 2-2 draw earlier in the day.
Guardiola was unhappy with his team’s performance over the weekend despite beating Fulham 3-0. He complained of unnecessary, extra touches and the simple passes not being made. There were no signs of improvement as Arteta temporarily took the reins in the technical area for the midweek clash.
In the first half, Ilkay Gundogan was peculiarly seen ahead of David Silva, Bernardo Silva, and Raheem Sterling for significant spells, often working nearby the similarly ineffectual Gabriel Jesus. However, it was the sloppiness deeper in the lineup that let Lyon take a deserved two-goal lead.
City’s loose use of the ball granted possession to Lyon in midfield, and the resulting upfield foray led to Fabian Delph clumsily producing an air kick when trying to turn away Fekir’s cross. Cornet was lurking behind, and pinged a left-footed short past Ederson.
Lyon’s second followed Fernandinho being caught in possession – he was arguably the best player on the pitch against Fulham, but struggled in Lyon’s visit – and was finished emphatically by Fekir.
City’s backline was almost caught out a few more times. The high defensive line was exposed with balls behind onto the runs of Fekir, Cornet, and Memphis Depay, and it seemed a mistake was always nearby.
Bernardo Silva halved the deficit after Sane and Sergio Aguero were introduced in place of Gundogan and Jesus, but City weren’t able to complete an undeserved comeback.