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Guardiola full of praise for complete Bristol City ahead of 'tough' second leg

With Pep Guardiola continuing to field strong teams in all competitions, the FC guys question if he is putting his star players at risk.

MANCHESTER -- Pep Guardiola insists Manchester City will face another "tough" test to secure a place in the Carabao Cup final when they travel to Championship side Bristol City.

City will go to Ashton Gate with a 2-1 advantage from the first leg after Sergio Aguero came off the bench to score an injury time winner.

But Guardiola warned how difficult it can be against Championship side after drawing with leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers in the fourth round and being held by Huddersfield Town in the FA Cup last season, before their promotion to the Premier League.

"We are not going to finish our qualification for the final today -- it's going be in Bristol, we have to focus on what we have to do in our game," the City boss told a news conference.

"It will be tough. We saw that against Huddersfield, the same against Wolves here, if Cardiff go through in the FA Cup we will go to Cardiff and it will be so tough.

"It's a good experience because it will be the same in the Champions League -- you cannot play 180 minutes always in control and dominating but it's how you react and we did it again with character and personality.

"It's okay. We're going to play there, try to make a good game to reach the final."

Guardiola went on to pay tribute to the quality of Bristol City, who had already knocked out four Premier League sides, including Manchester United in the previous round.

They led through Bobby Reid's penalty shortly before half-time and looked like they could be the first English club to beat City this season until Kevin De Bruyne's leveller in the 55th minute and Aguero's 92nd minute header.

Raheem Sterling reacts after missing a shot against Bristol City.
Raheem Sterling reacts after his shot was saved off the goalline by Bristol City.

"You cannot knock out four teams from the Premier League without being well-organised and having good players," Guardiola added. "They can play, long balls, they are fast, they know exactly what they have to do.

"It's fantastic, I am a lucky guy to train the players I have. Always semifinals are tough but 1-0 down, how we react in that situation -- even in the last minutes of the half we had a chance with [Raheem] Sterling.

"I don't know what is going to happen at the end of the season, whether we are going to win or lose it doesn't matter but my respect for those professionals -- they give absolutely everything that they have. Manchester City fans have to be so proud."

Guardiola wasn't the only manager to be proud of his players with Robins' boss Lee Johnson paying tribute to his squad.

And he had a warning for City to expect a difficult night in Bristol in two weeks' time.

"I'm proud of the football club tonight. It's half-time and we're still in the tie," Johnson said.

"Obviously I'm disappointed in the manner in which we've conceded the goal because I didn't feel the boys deserved it.

"I thought we played some really good football at times and we had our opportunities and we probably did as well as Premier League teams that have come here and in some cases better.

"It will be an interesting [second leg]. The one thing I do know is the atmosphere at Ashton Gate with us still in the tie will be phenomenal."

Jonathan is ESPN FC's Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.


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