KEVIN DE BRUYNE refused to blame Raheem Sterling for Manchester City’s exit from Europe.
Sterling missed a shocking late sitter when he blazed over an open goal from five yards with City trailing 2-1.
Lyon sub Moussa Dembele made him pay by scoring his second of the night to make it 3-1 just SIXTY SECONDS later.
De Bruyne, yesterday named Premier League Player of the Season, said: “We still had seven or eight minutes to equalise. So I don’t blame Raheem, it’s football.
“He did so many good things in the game and people are talking about the miss. That’s the way it goes I guess.”
City centre-back Aymeric Laporte held his hands up for a “bad team performance” but was baffled by VAR allowing Lyon’s second goal.
Laporte claimed he had been fouled in the build-up to Moussa Dembele’s first strike — but neither Dutch whistler Danny Makkelie nor the video ref saw fit to disallow it.
Laporte tweeted: “Just to be clear: I will not hide, I’m a football player but a man foremost, we all made mistakes in this game, and I also take my responsibility for the bad team performance.
“But this decision is hard to accept, especially in a crucial qualifier AND with the help of VAR.”
Team-mate Fernandinho weighed in on Twitter: “Disappointing and painful night in Lisbon. Life sometimes can be cruel, and football isn’t different.
“But now is time to get a little rest and get ready for the next season. And it will be very different.”
City have failed to reach the semi-finals since 2016.
And De Bruyne, whose goal had cancelled out Maxwel Cornet’s first-half strike, added: “It’s a little bit of a shame because we had good hopes to do well this year.
“I don’t think we are far away. At this level it’s just small details. The difference against Lyon is we made mistakes and they scored — but the chances we created we didn’t take.
“In the first half we didn’t play the way we usually do. We didn’t create enough.
“In the second half, we played much better and created many chances.
“They had two chances in the second half and scored two goals.”
Lyon now face Barcelona batterers Bayern Munich in Wednesday’s semi-final.
De Bruyne said: “Lyon have a great team.
“If I have to pick a player who impressed me, it’s Houssem Aouar. He was fantastic.”
KDB produced 20 assists during the Prem campaign to equal Thierry Henry’s record and scored 13 times to help Pep Guardiola’s men finish second in the table.
But Liverpool beat City to the title to end their 30-year wait for league glory and Jurgen Klopp was named Prem Manager of the Season.
Reds and England right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold clinched Young Player of the Season after he had a key role in finally bringing the championship back to Anfield.
Tottenham star Son Heung-min’s strike against Burnley, where he ran the length of the pitch, won Goal of the Season.
Votes from the public were added to those of 20 Prem captains and a panel of experts to decide the winners in all categories.