Guardiola: Big hearts & graft saw Bayern past Man City

The coach was thrilled with how the Bavarians dispatched the English champions – even if they did require a late goal to give them all three points

Pep Guardiola praised his players’ versatility and “big hearts” as they found a way to beat Manchester City in their Champions League opener on Wednesday.

Bayern failed to convert their superiority into goals until the final minute at the Allianz Arena when defender Jerome Boateng fired a wonderful effort through a crowded penalty area and past City goalkeeper Joe Hart.

It was hard on the English champions, but Guardiola felt Bayern got what they deserved and he singled out Rafinha and debutant Mehdi Benatia for special praise.

He told Sky: “Everybody is happy we have our first three points in this hard group. We had many chances against a very good team.

“At the start we had some problem with the possession. We then switched from three at the back to four at the back and it got better.

“You have to understand that Rafinha and Benatia have played very little recently. They played well and showed big heart. Sometimes it is the mind that makes the difference. If somebody really wants to play, he can play.”

Bayern’s win and Roma’s 5-1 demolition of CSKA Moscow mean Group E has two early pacesetters. Guardiola thinks, however, the pool will go to the final round of matches before the qualifiers are established.

“This group will be decided on the final matchday,” he said. “I told my players before this game, ‘I am not sure we will win’.

“But this is not decisive. The last match against Moscow will be decisive. There is huge pressure in this group and it helps that we took some of it away by beating a strong City team.”

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