Guardiola reveals Haaland and two Man City team-mates ‘asked’ to come off vs Real Madrid

News Desk
Pep Guardiola on his knees
Pep Guardiola on his knees

Pep Guardiola insisted he had no “regrets” after Manchester City’s pursuit of back-to-back Champions League triumphs ended in a penalty shoot-out loss to Real Madrid.

The holders were beaten 4-3 on spot-kicks by the La Liga giants after their tense quarter-final tie ended 4-4 on aggregate – 1-1 on the night – despite a dominant performance from Guardiola’s team in the return leg at the Etihad Stadium.

“They could not continue…”

Man City fell behind early to a goal from Brazil international Rodrygo but created a host of chances as they attempted to regain control of the tie but Kevin De Bruyne’s 76th-minute equaliser was their only reward.

Manuel Akanju was forced off with an injury in extra time, while Erling Haaland and De Bruyne were also subbed off before the penalty shootout. Speaking about the three players, Guardiola said: “They asked me to go out. They could not continue.”

He added: “I would have preferred to win, but congratulations to Real Madrid, they defended so deep with incredible solidarity, and we did everything.

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“I don’t have any regrets about what we have done. Always we try to create more chances and concede less, because we believe that helps you to win and we did everything.

“We played exceptionally in all departments, and unfortunately, we could not win.”

Bernardo Silva and Mateo Kovacic both missed in the shoot-out, with the former’s effort proving a particularly comfortable save for Andriy Lunin.

Guardiola refused to blame the Portuguese for his failure to register.

He said: “Bernardo asked to take it, he’s a reliable player and decided to shoot in that way. What a game he had played. It happens.”

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Guardiola also had no complaints about Real’s tactics, with the Spanish side forced to sit back and defend deep for much of the game.

“I don’t judge,” he said. “I’m not here to do this. It’s football. In this competition, that’s the way football happens.”

City’s loss also ended their hopes of winning a second successive treble and they must now pick themselves up for Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea at Wembley.

Guardiola said: “Now we will rest and on Friday we travel to London to play the game.

“We will see how people will react. Of course the recovery is easier when winning, rather than losing, but it is the semi-final of the FA Cup and we will try to compete as much as possible.”

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“We were totally convinced we’d go through…”

Real manager Carlo Ancelotti admitted the strength of City had forced them to soak up pressure and look to take the tie on penalties.

The veteran Italian said: “We defended really, really well. This was about survival. Madrid is a club based on always fighting to stay in situations where there seems to be no way out – but we always find a way.

“By the time the penalty shoot-out came, we were totally convinced we’d go through.

“This is about the only way you can come to City and win. You work, sacrifice and win however you can.”

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