Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino hailed the “best league in the world” after Cole Palmer’s last-gasp penalty set up a dramatic climax to Chelsea’s incredible 4-4 draw against Manchester City on Sunday.
Chelsea and City played out one of the most memorable encounters of the Premier League era as a pulsating clash produced countless twists and turns at Stamford Bridge.
In a perfect illustration of why the Premier League captivates millions of fans around the world, City squandered the lead three times and the Blues squandered the advantage once, giving Chelsea striker Palmer the chance to have the last word against the former his team.
Although his side had the chance to move three points clear at the top, Guardiola could not hide his delight at the classic after City instead opened up a one-point advantage over second-placed Liverpool.
“Did you enjoy yourself? It was a good advertisement and a fun game for the Premier League,” said the City boss.
“It was a tight game. At the moment I think it was a fair result. Both teams played for the win.
“We didn’t make perfect decisions after our goal to make it 4-3. It’s the first time for me at Stamford Bridge in many years that we created so many chances, but they created them too.”
Chelsea manager Pochettino agreed with Guardiola’s assessment of the eight-goal thriller.
“We wanted to win and we wanted to be the stars of the game. A game like today shows why the Premier League is the best in the world,” he said.
Erling Haaland’s penalty gave City the lead before Thiago Silva headed in Chelsea’s equaliser.
Raheem Sterling put Chelsea ahead against his old club but Manuel Akanji nodded to equalize at the end of a breathless first half.
The drama was relentless and Haaland struck again soon after the break, only for Nicholas Jackson to equalize for the Blues.
Rodri’s 86th-minute strike looked to have won it for City but rising star Palmer, who was surprisingly sold by Guardiola in September, converted from the spot after Ruben Diaz’s foul on Armando Brocha.
Asked if he regretted City’s uncharacteristic defensive sloppiness, Guardiola said: “If you think we’re going to come here and win 7-0, you’re wrong. We were close, maybe we didn’t do it perfectly at times, but Chelsea have nothing to lose.
“We’re top of the league and we’ve qualified for the next stage of the Champions League. At times when we could be a bit soft, it’s the complete opposite.”
In a game that continued to be talked about even after the final whistle, Pochettino stormed onto the pitch to berate referee Anthony Taylor for blowing up just before his side were set to attack.
Pochettino also forgot to shake hands with Guardiola after the game, but apologized for both his refereeing rant and his accidental lack of respect for the City boss.
“At the moment I feel we can score the fifth when we went through. I said to Anthony ‘what’s going on, why stop now’. I crossed the line. I have to apologize because it’s not a good image for me or for football. I ask sorry also from Pep,” said Pochettino.
Guardiola added: “It’s not a problem. It happened in the past with Pochettino. There are some emotions at the end of the game. It’s completely fine.”
With his young side stuck with last season’s treble winners, Pochettino was proud of a performance that provided tangible evidence that his influence is starting to take hold after a slow start.
“Very proud. The players deserve credit. The performance was amazing against the best team in the world,” he said.
“It’s good for confidence. It showed our mentality and our character. We have the tools to play against teams like this.”
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