Aymeric Laporte felt Manchester City should be proud to show a different side of their game after the prolific Champions League favorites were forced onto the defensive in Denmark.
After 15 goals in their last three games, City were held to a 0-0 draw by FC Copenhagen after Sergio Gomez was sent off in Tuesday’s final Group G game.
It was a largely unforgettable competition dominated by VAR controversy but City still managed to reflect positively after events elsewhere saw the result prove enough to secure their place in the last 16 with two games remaining to secure.
Laporte was also pleased with the team’s resilience after playing an hour-long 10-man game against a Copenhagen side who had improved greatly since their 5-0 win at Manchester last week.
“It was a tough game,” said the central defender. “Of course it was more difficult 10v11 but we tried everything until the end and I’m very proud of the team, how we reacted and how we played more than 60 minutes with one player less.
“I think that’s important – the team spirit is very, very good. I think we played really well and now let’s focus on the next one.”
The game might have lacked goal-scoring action, but it wasn’t lacking in conversation as referee Artur Dias repeatedly checked the pitchside monitor.
The first came after 11 minutes after Rodri thought he had put City ahead with a beautiful goal. It was disallowed for handball against Riyad Mahrez, who shortly after had a chance to quell the frustration when City were awarded a penalty following another VAR review.
Mahrez was denied by goalkeeper Kamil Grabara and City were forced to continue without Gomez after another VAR check revealed he had denied Hakon Haraldsson a scoring chance with a foul outside the box.
“I didn’t know what happened at that moment,” said Laporte, reflecting on Rodri’s unrecognized goal. “But in the end we have to accept that.
“So many times with that VAR we’ve considered penalties or free-kicks or whatever or red cards and there’s nothing we can do. We just have to learn and improve.”
Laporte will be back in action after missing the start of the season following knee surgery. The game was only his second launch in the campaign.
The 28-year-old said: “You never know how you’re going to come back but I’m very happy with how I’ve recovered. I’ve really been working on coming back stronger and I can feel that, so I’m very, very happy with that.
“Now I have to play a few minutes to find the rhythm and keep it.”