With a huge smile on his face, Pep Guardiola declared Manchester City had beaten the best team in the world following their 3-1 win over Barcelona.
City lost 4-0 in the reverse fixture at Camp Nou, but saved face and exerted revenge with a 3-1 victory at the Etihad. The win sees City draw two points closer to table leaders, Barcelona.
Messi put Barcelona in front in the 21st minute only for a Sergi Roberto error to cost them the lead, as Gundogan grabbed the equaliser.
And, while Guardiola conceded his players had endured a difficult start, he praised the attitude of his players after pulling level.
“Our performance 11 against 11 in Barcelona was much better than the first 38 minutes here,” he said. “In the first 38 minutes we saw the best team in the world. We were in really big trouble. When Barcelona had the chance to score the second goal the game would have been finished.
“But football is like this, like when Fernandinho slipped and Messi scored in Barcelona.
“Our goal changed the game. Our players realised the bad moment in the game was over.
“In the second half we were compact, we made good high pressing and won a lot of balls with our high pressing. Also we defended with low blocks and used our counter-attack against them.”
City ended a six-game winless run with a 4-0 victory over West Brom on Saturday and Guardiola is delighted to see his players moving in the right direction.
“Considering our situation with the short time we’ve had together, against the best team in the world and our position in the group, our victory is so important,” he added.
“We have one more game to win to go into [the next round in] February and I hope in February we will be better. Gladbach’s draw [with Celtic] gives us a bit of breathing space.
“We’re lucky that if we get through we won’t get Barca in the next round.”