Pep Guardiola was waiting to see how his players would respond to defeat. Now he will find out in the Manchester derby.
It has taken 29 games and seven-and-a-half months, but the Premier League leaders finally lost on a freezing night in Ukraine.
Manchester City’s imperious run at home and abroad came to an end here in the Metalist Stadium at the hands of Shakhtar Donetsk and a Brazilian contingent led by the gifted Taison who ripped them to shreds before half-time.
Shakhtar’s players celebrate with Bernard after the midfielder gave the Ukrainians the lead with a wonderful curling effort
Pep Guardiola saw his side fall to their first defeat of the season as they were comfortably beaten at the Metalist Stadium
Phil Foden was making his first start for Manchester City as Guardiola gave the 17-year-old a chance to impress in Ukraine
MATCH FACTS, RATINGS, TABLE AND MATCH ZONE
SHAKHTAR DONETSK (4-2-3-1): Pyatov 6.5; Butko 6, Ordets 6.5, Rakitskiy 6, Ismaily 7 (Azevedo 64, 6); Stepanenko 6, Fred 6.5; Marlos 7 (Kovalenko 82), Taison 8, Bernard 7; Ferreyra 6 (Khocholava 89).
Subs: Shevchenko, Dentinho, Patrick, Petriak.
Scorers: Bernard 26, Ismaily 32
Manager: Paulo Fonseca 7
MAN CITY (3-4-3): Ederson 5; Adarabioyo 5.5, Fernandinho 6 (Aguero 70, 6), Mangala 5.5; Danilo 5, Toure 6, Gundogan 6, Foden 6; B Silva 5, Gabriel Jesus 5.5, Sane 6 (Diaz 62).
Subs: Bravo, Walker, Sterling, Aguero, Otamendi, Duhaney.
Scorers: Aguero 90 pen
Booked: Danilo, Gundogan
Manager: Pep Guardiola 5
Referee: Benoit Bastien (France) 7
Star man: Taison
A first defeat since the FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal on April 23 was not a total surprise in what was essentially a dead rubber for City.
They had already qualified for the knockout stage as winners of Group F, and Guardiola rested players to avoid unnecessary injuries ahead of Sunday’s trip to Old Trafford against a very capable Shakhtar side still fighting for their Champions League lives. Teenager Phil Foden was handed his full first-team debut and played out of position at left wing-back. Tosin Adarabioyo made his second Champions League start in an unfamiliar back-three and an equally unfamiliar line-up.
But the manner of the defeat will concern Guardiola who will not have enjoyed seeing his team so comprehensively outplayed for 45 minutes.
Guardiola rotated for the clash though he still included Fernandinho, Ederson, Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus in City’s XI
City’s Ilkay Gundogan competes for possession in midfield against Shakhtar Donetsk’s Brazilian attacking midfielder Fred
Bernard impressed in the early stages for Shakhtar as they attempted to seal their place in the Champions League last 16
Facundo Ferreyra tries to reach the ball ahead of Eliaquim Mangala as Fernandinho (left) and Taras Stepanenko watch on
Sane and his City team-mates failed to establish themselves early on as Shakhtar dominated the opening period in Kharkiv
So too will the fact that it precedes such an important game against United following three unconvincing Premier League wins over Huddersfield, Southampton and West Ham.
Will this result knock City out of their stride? It’s unlikely. But Jose Mourinho will be relishing the opportunity to test their mettle.
Guardiola stood solemnly on the touchline on Wednesday night, his breath visible in the cold air as he screamed instructions, but to little avail.
City were two down by half-time and well on the way to a rare defeat after winning 21 of their 22 games this season. Sergio Aguero’s late penalty mattered little.
Bernard’s effort loops over the outstretched Ederson as the home side grabbed a deserved lead in the group stage match
Bernard celebrates after his effort after 26 minutes gave Shakhtar a deserved lead at the Metalist Stadium
(L-R) Ederson, Yaya Toure, Bernardo Silva and Fernandinho react after Bernard’s goal put City’s 100 per cent record in danger
By doing so, they failed to become only the sixth club in Champions League history to finish the group stage with a 100 per cent record. Not even Guardiola’s great Barcelona side, Lionel Messi and all, managed that.
Afterwards, the City boss claimed it might actually be a good thing for the club in the long run.
‘It hurts,’ said Guardiola. ‘It’s never nice to lose.
‘But we needed to lose a game. It will be good for the club, for all of us. People say things when you win a lot and you can forget that now.
‘We came here when our job was done. We tried. People cannot say we didn’t come to try to win the game.
Mangala attempts to dispossess Marlos as Shakhtar’s Brazilian stars flourished during the first half at the Metalist Stadium
Ismaily showed great composure to dribble round City goalkeeper Ederson who had come sprinting out off his line
Ismaily then side-footed home into Ederson’s empty net to double the home side’s lead as Danilo watched on helplessly
Ismaily is mobbed after his goal saw Shakhtar took a big step towards a place in the Champions League knockout stages
‘Now we are going to see on Sunday. Football is about how you recover in good and bad moments and try to stay stable.
‘We have said many times we cannot win all the time, we are going to lose games. Today was the first. Now we have to recover. It’s another competition, the Premier League.
‘But the world is not going to finish on Sunday. It doesn’t matter what is going to happen.’
Bizarrely, Shakhtar coach Paulo Fonseca followed Guardiola into the post-match interview room dressed as Zorro, fulfilling a promise he had made if the Ukrainian champions reached the knockout stage.
To be sure of that, they needed at least a draw on Wednesday night even though Napoli’s defeat to Feyenoord would have sent them through anyway.
Shakhtar played like a team determined to take three points, not one, and remain unbeaten their seven games at home to English clubs even though they are currently playing 300km from Donetsk in Kharkiv.
Shakhtar keeper Andriy Pyatov denied Gabriel Jesus brilliantly by sprinting off his line to tackle the Brazilian forward
Guardiola barks out instructions to his team from the sidelines as his City side improved after the half-time interval
Fernandinho rises to head on goal as the Brazilian faced his former club in City’s final Champions League group stage tie
Foden became City’s youngest-ever Champions League player but failed to change the course of Wednesday’s match
City simply couldn’t live with the pace of Taison, Bernard and Marlos, and went behind in the 26th minute lead.
Taison made the initial break and the ball was fed to Bernard on the left-hand side of the box. He weighed up his options for a moment and spotted Ederson slightly off his line and vulnerable.
The execution still had to be perfect, though, and it was. Bernard curled his shot over the outstretched fingertips of the City keeper and under the bar.
Ederson rushed out to block from the same player moments later after Taison had created another chance, but he was guilty of the error that handed Shakhtar a second goal in the 32nd minute.
Shakhtar defender Yaroslav Rakitskiy watches as Jesus is brought down by a sliding challenge during the second half
Bernardo Silva failed to seize his opportunity after being handed a rare start by Guardiola on Wednesday evening
Brahim Diaz made an impact and provided a spark off the bench after coming on as a substitute just past the hour mark
Sergio Aguero smashed home City’s consolation from the penalty spot after Jesus was brought down in the Shakhtar area
Ismaily galloped into space to reach Taison’s pass swung down the left channel, and the Brazilian raced off his line to try and intercept.
One of the reasons City signed Ederson was his qualities as a sweeper keeper, but he got it badly wrong this time. Ismaily beat him to the ball, took it round him and slotted it into an empty net.
City were rocking. Andriy Pyatov came out to claim the ball and send Gabriel Jesus sprawling after he had been put through by Foden, but that was City’s only real chance of the first half and it ended with Taison wriggling through to swing another shot inches over the bar.
City improved in the second half but they still struggled to stem Shaktar’s free-flowing football and Taison went close again with another effort just off target.
Aguero and Tosin Adarabioyo (right) walk off the pitch together at a freezing Metalist Stadium following the final whistle
Ederson trudges off the pitch after City saw their 100 per cent Champions League record go up in smoke against Shakhtar
Andriy Pyatov is embraced by Davit Khocholova as Shakhtar celebrated after booking their place in the knockout stages
City’s best attempts came from Fernandinho who placed a free header wide before making way for Aguero, while Jesus clipped the outside of the post after great work by young substitute Brahim Diaz.
Guardiola’s side did manage to pull a goal back in added time when Jesus was tripped in the box and Aguero converted from the penalty spot.
It was the fifth game in a row that City have snatched a late goal. But after those dramatic winners, this one made little difference.
Both clubs advance to the knockout stage in February when Guardiola’s approach and line-up will be altogether different.
For now, he will switch his sights to the Manchester derby and ensuring this remains an unfortunate blip.