When your opponent can call on arguably one of the best players in the world in Kevin De Bruyne as a late substitute, you start to get the feeling you’ve been pretty outmatched. Especially when you look to your own bench and the only attacking option you have is... Alex Iwobi.
Such was Carlo Ancelotti’s fate when Pep Guardiola threw on De Bruyne to change the game late on as Manchester City vanquished a depleted Everton 2-0 to march on into the semi-final of the FA Cup keeping their dream of the unprecedented quadruple alive, while simultaneously ensuring another trophy-less season for the Toffees who have endured 25 other campaigns like this previously.
Speaking after the game, Ancelotti admitted that there were no regrets in his limited side’s rearguard attempt.
“We were almost there. I think we did well, we did the best we can do, defending well and fighting. We had the game under control for at least for 80 minutes, we didn’t concede opportunities.
“After that they found a way with the quality they have. I am proud of my players because they did their best. We played the game that we wanted to play but they have the best team and the best bench in the world.
“My players have improved a lot this season... the game today showed there is different quality but with strong concentration and good defensive organisation, we are able to compete with the best teams.
“Manchester City is not a normal team, they are the best.”
City controlled the game with 74% possession with Everton mustering ten shots of which only two were on goal.
“Of course, we didn’t have a lot of opportunities, some set pieces, but that was absolutely normal. I am satisfied because we competed well against the best team in the world, in this moment, I think they are the best.
“We are upset because we are out of an important competition… but it was a good experience for us.
“I think there are no regrets. The regrets are the game against Burnley, where we didn’t use this type of concentration, or the game against Fulham.”
With both Jordan Pickford and Robin Olsen unavailable due to injury, youngster Joao Virginia was thrown into the fire and showed that his poor loan spell last season was an aberration.
“He did really well, he showed his quality, he has no experience but the quality and personality he has, he showed in training.
“I’m pleased for his performance. He’s always worked really well, really hard, really focused. I think he deserves the compliments.”