Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has said his side "needed to lose" after their 2-1 UEFA Champions League defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday ended a 28-game unbeaten run that stretched back to April.
As City had already confirmed top spot in their group, the defeat mattered little, and Guardiola said the focus had already moved to Sunday's derby against Manchester United at Old Trafford, per David Anderson in the Mirror:
"When I felt we needed to lose, it was for the players and for the club because in the media people say things when you win and you can forget things. We came here when our job was done in the Champions League. Now we are going to see how we react on Sunday. But I saw how we reacted after we went 2-0 down here and we passed it well. The world will not finish on Sunday no matter happens and now we will prepare for that game."
Sergio Aguero netted a consolation penalty in stoppage time, but the Sky Blues were largely outplayed by the hosts at the Metalist Stadium, with Bernard putting Shakhtar ahead after 26 minutes before Ismaily netted the second just after the half-hour.
Guardiola fielded a much-changed side, which included 20-year-old Tosin Adarabioyo and 2017 FIFA Under-17 World Cup winner Phil Foden.
For City, it was an ideal game in which to suffer a first defeat of the season given its lack of importance.
The last time Manchester City lost a competitive game (April 23):— B/R Football (@brfootball) December 6, 2017
—Ronaldo had one kid
—Viserion was still alive
—America was optimistic about the World Cup
—Chris Pratt and Anna Faris were still together pic.twitter.com/dB0MSjuE0p
But it did not come at an ideal time, with the derby looming on Sunday.
United will likely take confidence from the fact City were finally defeated on Wednesday and also that Guardiola's men have required late goals to earn 2-1 wins in each of their preceding three Premier League games.
Jose Mourinho's side sit second in the league, eight points back from table-topping City.
Many people will believe the Premier League title race will be all but over if United lose.
But a victory for the hosts at Old Trafford would not only move United closer to City in the league but could interrupt the Sky Blues' momentum heading into the crucial, and busy, Christmas period.