Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola insisted the reigning Premier League champions can only retain their title if they “win games, win games, win games” after being held at Newcastle.
City led twice at St James’ Park but eventually had to make do with a point after Jonjo Shelvey curled home a superb 87th-minute equaliser to clinch a 2-2 draw for the Magpies.
That left Guardiola’s men eight points adrift of leaders Liverpool before they kicked off at home to Brighton, but asked if an 11-point gap would be too big to bridge, he replied: “It’s not time.
“We have another opponent in front of us, so we now have to try to win games, win games and see what happens.
“I said yesterday at the press conference that it’s not a good idea to think about the Premier League or think how many points. We have to win games, win games, win games, and when you don’t win, it will be more difficult.”
City took a 22nd-minute lead on Tyneside when Raheem Sterling blasted home his 15th goal of the campaign, but they were ahead for just three minutes with Jetro Willems producing an equally-decisive finish after exchanging passes with Miguel Almiron.
The visitors looked to have won it with eight minutes remaining when Kevin De Bruyne chested down a headed clearance and thumped the ball past the helpless Martin Dubravka off the underside of the crossbar.
However, they were undone for a second time when substitute Christian Atsu played a free-kick square to Shelvey, who swept it imperiously beyond the diving Ederson.
Guardiola, whose side won their last 14 games last season to clinch the Premier League crown after a 2-1 defeat on Tyneside said: “Last season, we played badly, we played poorer than today.
“I feel we did everything to win the game and the guys responded perfectly, so that is the truth.
“I think we played at a good, good level in all terms, defending and set-pieces and everything. We moved the ball well, we found spaces outside especially with the players inside, and we arrived in front of goal many, many times.
“Unfortunately, we could not score.”
Opposite number Steve Bruce was delighted with the resilience of his team, which had lost tamely at Aston Villa on Monday evening, and in particular with Shelvey’s contribution.
Asked if the ex-Liverpool midfielder had just handed his former club the title, Bruce said: “I don’t know about that.
“I do know, that’s his second goal in three games and very quietly over the last few weeks, I’ve been very, very pleased with Jonjo.
“He’s responded to what we want to do, and of course we all know that in his locker, he’s got that ability.
“Who’s was the better one, his or De Bruyne’s? I’ll let you decide.
“Of course when De Bruyne hits that one in, a wonder goal, you think with eight minutes to go, that’s typical because of that little bit of quality they have got, which certainly De Bruyne’s got.
“But thankfully, we still had something to get back at them. That was the biggest thing for me, that twice, we’ve been behind against Manchester City and come back, which bodes well.”
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