Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola hailed his “special” team after they remained in the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple by booking their place in the last 16 of the FA Cup with a 2-0 win at Cardiff City on Sunday.
Guardiola’s side, who got the better of the Bluebirds thanks to goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling, have a 12-point lead at the top of the Premier League, play Arsenal in the final of the Carabao Cup, and resume their Champions League campaign next month.
Guardiola was full of praise for his players after the full-time whistle.
“There are no words to describe the pride I feel about my players and my team,” he said. “We have played many games and we do not have a big squad because of so many injuries and players with problems.
“But they are ready to play every three days and I feel something very special about that.
“Playing in the FA Cup away to a Championship team like Cardiff, who are at the top of the league, is so complicated, but we react again like a mature team.
“We are in the draw and hopefully we can have a team at home, that is my wish.”
However, Guardiola did call for players to get better protection after Leroy Sane was left facing a spell on the sidelines on Sunday afternoon.
Sane failed to come out for the second half after Joe Bennett’s high tackle left the Germany winger with an ankle injury, and the Cardiff defender was sent off in the final seconds for another poor challenge on City substitute Brahim Diaz.
“[Sane] will be out for a while – minimum two weeks, three weeks, one month, we will see tomorrow exactly,” said City manager Guardiola. “I said many times the only thing [referees] have to do is protect the players.
“I can accept our disallowed goal, I don’t know why but I accept. But please protect the players.
“Not the Man City players, all players. The only thing they can do is that – to protect the players – because it would not happen again.
“It happened once with Leroy, then it happened with Brahim again at the end.
“So for the football in general, and for the players who are the artists, they must do that. That’s why we are all here.”