Tosin Adarabioyo, Brahim Diaz and Phil Foden earned praise from Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola after their displays at Shakhtar Donetsk.
A pair of Marlos assisted goals consigned City to their first defeat in any competition this season, with the hosts’ first-half goals from Bernard and Ismaily rendering Sergio Aguero’s stoppage-time penalty a mere consolation.
Teenage midfielder Foden became the youngest Englishman to start a Champions League game at the age of 17, while 20-year-old Tosin Adarabioyo was included from the start in defence and 18-year-old Brahim Diaz hit the post shortly after he came off the bench.
Foden and Diaz were both lively in attack, despite City failing to close Group F with a perfect record, and Guardiola was satisfied with the way his team played against Shakhtar, who qualified as runners-up thanks to their third home win in the pool.
‘Congratulations to them but we did it too [qualified for the knockout rounds],’ Guardiola told BT Sport.
‘We started really well but they countered magnificently for the first goal. The second goal we didn’t defend well but we fought.
‘I’m so pleased for Tosin, Brahim and Phil for the way they played against a talented team like Shakhtar. We came here to win but we could not – but we tried.
‘We were 2-0 down but we tried, we changed a bit and we created some good spaces outside but they defended well inside. But we did it [qualified] and I’m pleased and happy for the performance.’
Juventus, defending champions Real Madrid and Guardiola’s former club Bayern Munich are among the elite clubs City could meet in the knockout rounds but Guardiola is not worried about Monday’s draw.
‘In this situation it always happens [speculation about opponents],” he added. “On Monday it is the draw but it depends how the team arrives in that moment.
‘Maybe you are good today and a disaster in February – or the other way around. You never know.
‘Now we are going to rest and we are going to come back tomorrow and prepare for the [Manchester United] game.’
-This story originally appeared on FourFourTwo.co.za