Guardiola fumes over Haaland’s penalty kick gesture

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A magnanimous gesture by Manchester City’s goal machine Erling Haaland left Pep Guardiola fuming on Saturday.

This came after the Norwegian striker defied his manager’s orders to take a penalty kick and instead passed the ball to teammate Ilkay Gundogan.

The German midfielder scored a first-half brace to put the English Premier League leaders ahead 2-0 against Leeds United.

Guardiola, on the other hand, yelled from the sidelines for Haaland, 22, to take the penalty kick awarded in the final minutes.

However, Haaland, who has already set a Premier League single-season record with 35 goals, looked at Guardiola before passing the ball to Gundogan to complete a hat-trick.

The move enraged the Spanish manager, especially since Gundogan’s effort was pushed aside by diving keeper Joel Robles.

Speaking with reporters after Manchester City’s 2-1 victory, Guardiola said “If Gundo scores, everyone is ‘OK, hat-trick, well done. But a taker is a taker. At 2-0, this is a business, not a situation where we cannot forget it.”

The 32-year-old Gundogan felt the heat from Guardiola when he stepped up to the penalty kick spot.

“First he showed to Erling that he was quite mad about that, and then also he had a go at me,” Gundogan told reporters. “It is what it is at the end.

“The moment Erling grabbed the ball, I was sure he was going to take it but he looked out for me. I checked with him a few times to make sure he was sure. He was certain to hand the ball to me. I was confident to score.”

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Haaland had several excellent scoring chances, with a shot that bounced off the crossbar and another that glanced off the post.

With Manchester City in pursuit of their third successive Premier League title, and the win having extended their lead over second-placed Arsenal to four points, Guardiola’s mood somewhat later improved.

“The performance was excellent. We played really, really good,” the Spaniard, whose side has four league games left this season, said by the time he met reporters post-game.

“Who knows if Erling takes the penalty kick and misses it? What happens if Gundo takes the penalty kick and scores? So, the question is 2-0, who is the taker? The taker is Erling.

“Second point is that is how Erling is as a person. He is incredible and wants to score goals, but at the same time, the team, the mates are important.

“He had chances to score goals, he didn’t convert, but he played an outstanding game.

“But a taker is a taker. At 2-0, this is a business, not a situation where we cannot forget it.

“Especially in England, it never is over and I want the taker who has more routine, who is a specialist, to take it.”

Treble-chasing Manchester City next head to Real Madrid for the first leg of their 2022/2023 UEFA Champions League semi-final fixture on Tuesday.

Reuters/NAN

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