Pep Guardiola’s decision to rest his stars between Manchester City’s UEFA Champions League quarterfinal fixtures backfired in a 2–1 home loss to 10-man Leeds United.
It’s a tactic often used by European giants Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus—play a weakened lineup against a lightweight domestic opponent before a critical UCL second leg—but the rigors of the Premier League punished Man City in the end.
With the win at the Etihad, Leeds became just the fourth promoted side to win away against the league leaders in Premier League history, according to Opta. Still, it may be only a matter of time before City clinches its third Premier League title in four years under Guardiola with the club’s magic number at 11 points with six matches left to play.
Leeds midfielder Stuart Dallas opened the scoring in the 42nd minute, but Leeds captain Liam Cooper’s red card in stoppage time of the first half for a high challenge on Gabriel Jesus seemed to doom the visitors.
But City was uncharacteristically wasteful in front of goal, waiting until its 24th shot to score an equalizer when Ferran Torres struck in the 76th minute. But without usual starters Kevin De Bruyne, Rúben Dias, Rodri, Riyad Mahrez and Aymeric Laporte (injury), City looked lethargic despite the man advantage for the entirety of the second half, conceding the match-winner to Dallas in the 91st on a textbook counter-attack.
On Tuesday, Manchester City snuck past Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of the UCL quarterfinals on Tuesday thanks to a 90th-minute winner from Phil Foden, although the visitors secured an away goal. The result of Wednesday’s second leg at Dortmund will determine whether Guardiola’s failed gamble to rest his starters against Leeds was worth the dropped three points and the end of City’s six-match win streak.