Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola refused to get carried away, despite his players reaching the Champions League quarter-finals with a vibrant first-half display against Lyon.
The tie was effectively over at the interval with Barca 4-0 ahead, and although Lyon fought back well after the break they eventually succumbed 5-2 on the night and 6-3 on aggregate.
“We played well, very well,” said Guardiola. In the first half we did everything right, we defended and attacked well. In the second we began with some doubts but we improved within minutes.
“We had to go in search of the ball because we kept conceding possession and had to hold a higher defensive line. The supporters have had a good time and the players are happy. It is very important seeing the stadium full and witnessing a good show.
“We have quality players in midfield like Xavi [Hernández] and [Andrés] Iniesta, who moved the ball with great intensity. Furthermore, we paid close attention to Karim Benzema and did not concede any free-kicks near the penalty area for Juninho to exploit.
“It was a good performance but nothing more; we have not achieved anything. Now we have to recover physically and mentally. I have no preferred opponents in the next round; at this stage of the competition any team you draw is very strong and will be difficult to overcome.
Claude Puel, meanwhile, was left to count the cost of Lyon’s disappointing first half display and is now turning his focus to the challenge of winning an eighth successive Ligue 1 title.
“Barcelona were better and I congratulate their players, but my team came to win,” said Puel. “The ball was moved very quickly and both legs of the tie were good. Barça played very openly which prevented us from playing our normal game. Their first-half display overwhelmed us, making any comeback too difficult. We have come back in other matches, such as against Fiorentina, but this time we could not.
“Anything can happen in football. We remained confident and kept believing but we failed to maintain our pressure. We would have liked to have won and played well but the key was the first half and then we failed to perform as we can.
“It was a disappointment but the season does not end here because we have the strength to face the challenges ahead in Ligue 1, which is very open. Barcelona are one of the favourites and Thierry Henry was decisive in both games.”