Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola declared that he had accomplished the mission after his team’s 0-0 draw in the Champions League against Borussia Dortmund.
Shared points after a largely uneventful encounter at Signal Iduna Park were enough for already-qualified City to clinch top spot in Group G with one game remaining and Dortmund also advance to the round of 16 .
City came closest to breaking the tie when Riyad Mahrez’s penalty was saved in the second half, but neither side showed any urgency to chase down a winner in the closing stages.
Guardiola admitted his players showed signs of fatigue after traveling to Dortmund following Saturday’s 3-1 win at home against Brighton.
He told BT Sport: “We played much better in the second half. In the first half we lost some balls to them because they were so fast.
“I think we suffered because our game on Saturday was very physically demanding, and the trip and everything, really tiring.
“We wanted to finish first in the group when we were here and we had (already) qualified, we are in the last 16, so yes, very good.”
Guardiola revealed that Erling Haaland and Joao Cancelo, both substituted at half-time, had been feeling unwell before the match and both had suffered minor foot injuries.
Asked later about Haaland’s injury, the Spaniard said: “I spoke to (the medical staff) at half-time and they were a bit worried, but I saw him walk more or less normally. We will see.”
The City manager refused to say whether Haaland will become the designated penalty taker after Mahrez had his penalty kick saved in the second half.
Mahrez also saved a penalty in City’s previous Champions League tie earlier this month when they drew 0-0 in Copenhagen.
City’s last missed penalty was the 25th they have failed to convert in all competitions since the start of the 2016-17 season, more than any other Premier League club.
Guardiola added: “We’ll see, we’ll see what happens now. Of course it is a problem. We have missed 25 penalties, most of them in the Champions League. That is too much.
“I always admire his courage, (taking) the responsibility to do it, but of course we have missed a lot of penalties and this is a problem.
“We lost (one) in Copenhagen and here too, so we have to improve, otherwise these are the small margins in this competition that could make the difference.”
Dortmund’s English midfielder Jude Bellingham was pleased that his side had limited City to few chances and kept Haaland quiet.
Bellingham told BT Sport: “Defensively we were very good. I don’t think many teams will keep a clean sheet against Manchester City this season, so it’s really promising in that regard.
“It’s good to keep all the City players out, but especially him because we know how dangerous he is.
“I’m not too satisfied because I didn’t score tonight either, but in the end we’re happy because we got the draw and we can continue our journey”.