- Image 1 of 3
- Image 2 of 3
- Image 3 of 3
MANCHESTER, England – Pep Guardiola and Leonardo Jardim were up and down from their seats in the dugout, trying to get messages to their players but ultimately powerless to exert any control in a chaotic game that was unfolding before them.
In the end, they were just swept along by it like everyone else.
Guardiola's Manchester City and Jardim's Monaco served up a spectacular Champions League match on Tuesday, a dizzying eight-goal thriller that had everything: stunning goals, woeful defending, exquisite build-up play, a missed penalty, refereeing controversies.
City came out on top, scoring three late goals in an 11-minute span to win 5-3, but both coaches agreed that soccer was the real winner.
"It was special, I cannot deny that," Guardiola said.
The game was a reflection of the attacking philosophies that both Guardiola and Jardim preach. The defending left a lot to be desired at Etihad Stadium but, they argued, so what? Supporters went home having witnessed one of the great Champions League games, and the millions of TV viewers around the world were thoroughly entertained.
"We work hard to put on a show," said Jardim, whose team have now scored 111 goals in all competitions this season and are the top scorers in Europe's five top leagues.
Excitingly, Guardiola promised more of the same in the return leg in Monaco on March 15. In truth — and he almost said as much — he cannot trust his defense to eke out a low-scoring draw or narrow loss.
It's not in his nature, either.
"We are going to fly to Monaco to score as many goals as possible," Guardiola said. "We are not going to defend that result."
He almost laughed when asked if he was happy to see his team play in such an open manner.
"Yeah," he responded. "Yeah."
A side that has a front five of Sergio Aguero, Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne is always going to score goals. Aguero scored two of them against Monaco, which will come as huge psychological boost to a player who was recently dropped from the team for the first time in his six-year City career. Sane and Sterling also scored.
But Monaco's players were arguably even more threatening going forward and were slightly unfortunate to lose by a two-goal margin.
Even Guardiola, one of the most attack-minded coaches in soccer history, was taken aback at Monaco's gung-ho approach. A man who usually has all the answers had a question of his own.
"I would like to know," he said, "how many teams have kept a clean sheet against Monaco this season."
The answer? Two: Nice, in a French league match in September, and Bayer Leverkusen, in a Champions League match in December.
With striker Radamel Falcao — also a scorer of two goals at the Etihad — playing in front of an attacking-midfield three of Kylian Mbappe, Bernardo Silva and Thomas Lemar, and fullbacks Djibril Sidibe and Benjamin Mendy regularly powering forward, Monaco has a fearsome attacking unit that overwhelmed City on the break.
"The holding midfielder even commits forward and they are there with six or seven players (in attack)," Guardiola said. "It's a long time since I saw a team attack with such a huge amount of good players."
Monaco has scored three or more goals in six games already in 2017, so scoring a minimum of two against City in the return leg will not be a concern for Jardim. Not if City defends like it did on Tuesday, with Nicolas Otamendi the main culprit.
The biggest issue for Monaco is keeping the goals out at the other end.
Whatever happens, it's unlikely to be a 0-0 draw at Stade Louis II.
"There's 90 minutes to go," Jardim said. "It's far from over."
Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80