Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola and his players said sealing their place in the Champions League knockout stage was more important than a below-par performance after they drew 1-1 at Borussia Moenchengladbach on Wednesday.
City are second in Group C, four points behind leaders and guaranteed group winners Barcelona, with one game left.
“Overall we are very happy with the point and the performance of the team,” Guardiola told reporters. “The result is good for both teams.”
City controlled possession but Gladbach took an early lead before David Silva levelled on the stroke of halftime.
Both teams finished the game with 10 men after Lars Stindl and Fernandinho were second off for the hosts and visitors respectively.
“We controlled the game but it was not enough to win,” City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne said. “We are just happy that we are through to the last 16.”
“It was always about the result. After we got the red card it killed the game but obviously the result was the most important.”
“It was not nice to see at the end of the match but now we are through. (Gladbach) were very compact. Even before they scored I think they just wanted to defend.”
The result was also good news for out-of-form Gladbach, who secured third place and will continue in the Europa League, leaving Celtic in last place.
“We were a bit passive at 0-0,” City midfielder Ilkay Guendogan said. “So maybe we deserved to fall a goal behind. We did not want to lose here and it was good timing to level right on halftime.”
“We then saw late in the second half that Gladbach did not really want to score again and were happy with the point. Maybe it was not (an) exciting final 10 minutes for the fans but sometimes there are such games.”
Gladbach, without a win in their last six league matches, can take credit for doing it much better than their 4-0 loss at City earlier in the season.
“It is difficult to say how much self-confidence this game will give us for the Bundesliga,” coach Andre Schubert told reporters.
“It was a crazy game with a lot of twists and turns, but we are very happy that we managed to pick up a point. We are in the Europa League now – that was our aim, and we have done it.”