Rarely has Guardiola found himself making excuses for his players on home soil during his reign as City manager.
Rarely has Guardiola found himself making excuses for his players on home soil during his reign as City manager, yet this was a day when he admitted the opposition were better than his champions.
Ivan Toney responded to his World Cup omission by scoring both goals as Brentford claimed a stunning win in Manchester, with this result ensuring Arsenal will be top of the Premier League at Christmas.
Brentford’s match-winner was left out of Gareth Southgate’s squad for the World Cup on Thursday and he responded to that snub by netting a stoppage-time winner to condemn City to a shock loss in their final match before the break.
Toney, outstanding throughout, had put Brentford ahead on 16 minutes only for Phil Foden (below) to level on the stroke of half-time.
Both sides had opportunities in the second half but Toney had the final say deep into the 10 minutes of time added on, ending City’s run of 11 straight home league wins.
“The best team won, we struggled from the beginning and we couldn’t deal with their long balls,” conceded Guardiola.
“Usually, you press the balls to win it but this was different. They defended so deep and so well.
“We didn’t have the dynamic today because we were dictated by long balls that we were losing.
“In the second half we started well and then there was a break of 10 minutes, but every time break, long balls, we could not win it.
“With the structure defensively 5-3-2, the striker is so deep and deep and we struggle to let him go outside and crosses they defended really well. We struggled to create chances.
“The game was so difficult, it was so tight. They did really well in the plan they had and were better.
“Sometimes you have days like this. We have been fighting so hard in so many competitions and now this is the day when we came up short. I have nothing more to say.
“We have done exceptionally well in the Champions League and well in the Premier League.
“We’ll come back and prepare for the second-half of the season now.”
It was an honest appraisal from Guardiola, who looked on as his players struggled to crank through the gears a week before the World Cup.
There was always likely to be shock results in this final round of Premier League matches, with players eager to avoid injury so close to the biggest tournament of them all.
Brentford had not won away all season and few gave them much chance of altering that statistic at City.
Yet manager Thomas Frank had promised to take the game to the champions and they delivered.
“One of the most satisfying wins we’ve had,” said Frank.
“I think the play-off final will always be the one, getting us to the promised land, but, of course, it is up there.
“Speaking to some people from the club, this is probably the single biggest ever result, against one of the richest clubs in the world and we have one of the lowest budgets in the division.
“We’re just a bus stop in Hounslow.
“From my perspective, it was well deserved if you look at the chances.
“I’m unbelievably proud. We’re missing four of our starters as well. Mind-blowing performance.”
City head into the World Cup break with their status as Premier League title favourites shaken by this horrible setback.
While Guardiola’s side are still firm Premier League title favourites, they are showing some signs of frailties that few believed would be exposed.
It could have been a lot worse but for keeper Ederson and it was hardly a huge shock when Brentford raided so deep into added time to claim all the points.