Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne 'asked to come off' before Man City penalty heartbreak

Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne were not on the pitch for the penalty shoot-out (Image: GETTY)

Pep Guardiola has revealed that Erling Haaland, Kevin De Bruyne and Manuel Akanji all asked to be substituted before Manchester City were taken to penalties by Real Madrid. Antonio Rudiger struck the decisive blow from 12 yards as the Spanish giants progressed to the Champions League semi-finals at the expense of last year’s winners.

Haaland was hooked at the start of extra time after having a poor game by his own high standards, while De Bruyne was replaced by Mateo Kovacic in the 112th minute despite scoring City’s only goal of the match. Speaking after the final whistle at the Etihad Stadium, Guardiola explained that both players as well as Akanji had asked to be taken off due to fatigue.

“Manu, Erling and Kevin asked me to go out,” said the City boss, who was visibly distraught after Rudiger’s winning penalty condemned his side to a heartbreaking quarter-final exit. “They couldn’t continue.”

Bernardo Silva was among the City players to miss from 12 yards in the shootout, with Kovacic also seeing his effort saved by Real Madrid goalkeeper Andriy Lunin. Silva’s attempt was later branded the ‘worst penalty ever’ but Guardiola was in no mood to criticise him in the public eye, saying: “He said he wanted to take one and he is a reliable player, but what a game he had.”

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Pep Guardiola was quick to defend his City players after the final whistle (Image: GETTY)

The Spaniard, who led City to their first Champions League title last season, cut a frustrated figure in his post-match press conference but was quick to give his players credit for their collective display in spite of the result.

“I have to say thank you to these players from deep in my heart because the way they played,” he added. “Football is about winning and we didn’t do enough, yet we were exceptional.

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“Sometimes you can win on penalties and sometimes you cannot, but in the game we did not convert the chances that we had, even though we defended really well. Everyone performed at a high level. We said we would have to be at our best to play Real Madrid and they were.

“I would have preferred to have won but congratulations to Real Madrid. We did everything so I have absolutely no regret about anything we have done. I always say as a manager, it is about scoring more and conceding less and we did everything. We played exceptional but unfortunately we could not win, so it is what it is.”

Source: https://www.express.co.uk/sport/football/1889609/Erling-Haaland-Kevin-De-Bruyne-Man-City-Champions-League