Pep Guardiola regrets missed chances against defensive Middlesbrough

MANCHESTER -- Pep Guardiola said it had been easier to play against Barcelona than Middlesbrough after Manchester City's 1-1 draw at home to Boro in the Premier League on Saturday.

Middlesbrough barely set foot inside the City half in the opening 45 minutes as the home side enjoyed 78 percent possession and created 18 chances to the visitors' none.

But they scored only once, through Sergio Aguero, and were made to pay when Middlesbrough showed more adventure after the break and scored a 91st-minute equaliser.

Guardiola said it was difficult to break down a team with 10 men behind the ball but believes City should have made more of their opportunities, with both Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne missing good chances to wrap up victory.

"When you have to attack 10 players, it is not easy," he told a news conference. "I saw the games here and you have to keep going in that way.

"My feeling is that we are playing better when 10 players are there. When you attack like this and you concede counter-attacks every time then you are not playing good. That did not happen [against Middlesbrough].

"We have to improve, of course we have to improve. We used a lot of counter-attacks against Barcelona because they wanted to attack. The space is there. But teams who don't want to attack and just stay there...

"What we have to improve is to be more clinical, precise, lucky in the box. That's all."

It was City's third successive 1-1 draw in the Premier League and saw them knocked off the top of the table for the first time since August.

Guardiola's side are now two points behind Liverpool after just one win in five Premier League games, but Guardiola said he expected all the top sides to drop points against unfancied teams.

"The last two or three weeks have always been like this," he said. "It will continue like this.

"The season is long. We will recover mentally and physically.

"Sometimes when you miss out on points it is a pity, it is a shame, because we tried to do everything in the game."