Cheltenham Town were nine minutes away from the unthinkable, nine minutes away from knocking Premier League heavyweights Manchester City out of the FA Cup.
The Robins took the lead early in the second half, following a Ben Tozer long-throw that was cooly finished by the in-form Alfie May.
After leading for 22 minutes, City ruled superior and overturned the hosts 3-1 on the night, but Cheltenham didn’t make things easy for Pep Guardiola’s men.
“One thing I think Pep and the players will definitely know is that they’ve been involved in a half decent football match today,” Duff said, following his team’s defeat
“I thought it was an incredible performance, I’m incredibly proud of the players.”
Guardiola went relatively strong with his starting line up, with Jesus, Mahrez, Fernandinho, Mendy, Laporte and Foden all walking out at the Jonny-Rocks stadium.
“We had to pick and choose our moments to attack of course, even in the first half at 0-0 we had a couple of moments, a couple of things dropped for us and that was the message at half time,” Duff continued.
“We got the goal but look at the subs they brought on and they do that to teams in the last 10 minutes.
“I don’t think the lads deserved the third goal but it was 80 minutes gone and we were still 1-0 up and you’re thinking, if there was a crowd here would they have got the players through.
“We’ve lost to probably the best team in the world right here right now, and the players have given an incredible account of themselves tonight.”
There can be no FA Cup hangover for the Robins, though, as they prepare to face Oldham in League Two on Tuesday night with promotion the priority for Duff’s men.
“I said to the lads, you’re going to get unbelievable attention now, enjoy it because it doesn’t come around very often.
“Enjoy the moment and all the press they’re going to get – but turn up Monday morning ready to go to work.
“We’ve got to kick on. It was a nice, welcomed break from the league but now we need to try and harness it and use it as a motivation to go on.”