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Manchester City logo
Champions League | Quarter-Finals | 2nd Leg
Apr 17, 2024 at 8pm UK
Etihad Stadium
Real Madrid logo

Man City
1 - 1
Real Madrid

De Bruyne (76')
Grealish (59'), Gvardiol (61'), Rodri (90')
Rodrygo (12')
Carvajal (38'), Mendy (90+4')
Real Madrid win 4-3 on penalties

Pep Guardiola confirms Manchester City trio who 'could not continue' in Real Madrid defeat

Guardiola confirms Man City trio who 'could not continue' in Real Madrid loss
© Reuters
Pep Guardiola confirms the three Manchester City players who asked to be taken off before his side were eliminated from the Champions League quarter-finals by Real Madrid on penalties.

Pep Guardiola has confirmed that three Manchester City players asked to be taken off before his side were eliminated from the Champions League quarter-finals by Real Madrid on penalties.

Following an enthralling 3-3 draw in last week's first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu, a tense and tighter affair was played out in the reverse fixture at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night, one in which Los Blancos took a 12th-minute lead through Rodrygo.

The Citizens responded in dominant fashion, boasting 33 shots, 68% possession and 18 corners, but they initially struggled to break down a resilient Real backline. Their persistence in the final third eventually told on the 76-minute mark, though, when Kevin De Bruyne rifled a close-range shot high into the net at the near post.

Real continued to frustrate City in extra time and eventually forced the tie to penalties, and although Luka Modric missed the visitors' first spot kick, City duo Bernardo Silva and Mateo Kovacic both failed to convert from 12 yards to give Real the advantage.

Antonio Rudiger slotted home the decisive penalty to send Real Madrid through to the semi-finals with a 4-3 shootout victory, avenging last season's semi-final loss at the Etihad and sending the Champions League holders packing at the quarter-final stage.

Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne walks off the pitch after being substituted on April 17, 2024© Reuters

Who asked to be substituted in Real Madrid loss?

Before extra time began, Guardiola made the somewhat surprising decision to take off top scorer and first-choice penalty-taker Erling Haaland and replace the Norwegian with Julian Alvarez.

Haaland endured another fairly frustrating night in front of goal; the 23-year-old boasted just 21 touches throughout the 90 minutes, but he did have five attempts of his own, including a towering header that cannoned off the crossbar midway through the first half.

Star playmaker De Bruyne and defender Manuel Akanji, who occupied the 'John Stones role' and drifted into midfield on countless occasions, were the final two City players to be withdrawn early on the second half of extra time, with Kovacic and Stones brought on as their replacements.

De Bruyne, who missed a glorious opportunity to put Man City in front in normal time after netting the equaliser, would have presumably taken a penalty along with Haaland had they stayed on the pitch for the shootout.

However, Guardiola has since confirmed that each of Haaland, De Bruyne and Akanji asked to be withdrawn prior to penalties – Jack Grealish was the only other substitution made by the City boss in the 72nd minute, but that was a tactical decision to replace him with Jeremy Doku.

Manchester City players during the penalty shootout on April 17, 2024© Reuters

Guardiola: "They could not continue"

Asked about his substitutions during his post-match press conference, Guardiola said: "Erling and Kevin asked me to go out, like Manu [Akanji], they could not continue.

"The game we were playing they were amazing and I am not a big fan of making a lot of substitutions but Kevin, Erling and Manu asked me to go out."

Guardiola was not critical of Kovacic or Bernardo Silva after they both had their tame penalties saved by Andriy Lunin, adding: "Bernardo is a reliable player. He wanted to take it. He decided to shoot in that way. It is what it is."

"We did everything. I don't have any regrets about what we have done," Guardiola continued. "We played exceptional in all departments and unfortunately we could not win. It is what it is.

"It's football. In this competition, that's the way football happens. In other sports, for statistics we would have won but in football it's the marvellous thing about football is this is what happens. The way that we played, the amount of shots that we had, being in there and the transitions we had.

"Sometimes you can win on penalties and sometimes you cannot. But in the game we did not convert the chances that we had. Everyone performed at a high level. We said we would have to be at our best to play Real Madrid and they were."

Guardiola is now keen for Haaland, De Bruyne, Akanji and the rest of his senior squad to rest and regroup ahead of Saturday's FA Cup semi-final showdown with Chelsea at Wembley Stadium.

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