Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino saluted the “world’s best league” after Cole Palmer’s last-gasp penalty provided a dramatic climax to Chelsea’s incredible 4-4 draw against Manchester City on Sunday.
Chelsea and City served up one of the most memorable encounters in the Premier League era as a pulsating clash produced countless plot twists at Stamford Bridge.
In a perfect illustration of why the Premier League captivates millions of fans across the globe, City squandered the lead three times and the Blues wasted the advantage once, giving Chelsea forward Palmer the chance to have the last word against his former club.
Even though his side blew an opportunity to move three points clear at the top, Guardiola could not hide his pleasure in the classic after City instead opened up a one-point advantage over second-placed Liverpool.
“Did you have fun? It was a good advert and an entertaining game for the Premier League,” the City boss said.
“It was a tight game. Right now I think it was a fair resuit. Both teams played to win.
“We didn’t make perfect decisions after our goal for 4-3. It is the first time for me at Stamford Bridge in many years we created that many chances, but they created as well.”
Chelsea manager Pochettino agreed with Guardiola’s assessment of the eight-goal thriller.
“We wanted to win and wanted to be protagonists in 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 Chelsea’s equaliser.
Raheem Sterling put Chelsea in front against his old club but Manuel Akanji nodded home to equalise at the end of a breathless first half.
The drama was relentless and Haaland struck again soon after the interval, only for Nicolas Jackson to level for the Blues.
Rodri’s 86th minute strike looked to have won it for City, but rising star Palmer, surprisingly sold by Guardiola in September, converted from the spot following Ruben Dias’s foul on Armando Broja.
‘We have the tools’
Asked if he had any regrets about City’s uncharacteristic defensive sloppiness, Guardiola said: “If you think we are going to come here and win 7-0, you are wrong. We were close, maybe we managed not perfectly in some moments but Chelsea have nothing to lose.
“We are top of the league and qualified for the Champions League next stage. At some times when we could be a bit soft, it is the complete opposite.”
In a game that kept providing talking points even after the final whistle, Pochettino stormed onto the pitch to berate referee Anthony Taylor for blowing up just before his team were about to launch an attack.
Pochettino also forgot to shake hands with Guardiola after the game, but apologised both for his referee rant and his accidental lack of respect to the City boss.
“In this moment I feel that we can score the fifth when we went through. I said to Anthony ‘what is going on, why stop in this moment’. I crossed the limit. I need to apologise because it is not a good image for me or football. I apologise to Pep as well,” Pochettino said.
Guardiola added: “It is not a problem. In the past it happened with Pochettino. There are some emotions at the end of the game. It is completely fine.”
With his young team having gone toe to toe with last season’s treble winners, Pochettino took pride from a performance that provided tangible evidence his influence is starting to take hold after a slow start.
“Very proud. The players deserve full credit. The performance was amazing against the best team in the world,” he said.
“It is good for the confidence. It showed our mentality and character. We have the tools to play against teams like this.”