Erling Haaland & Kevin de Bruyne ‘could not continue’, says Pep Guardiola

BBC Sport chief football news reporter at Etihad Stadium

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says top goalscorer Erling Haaland and playmaker Kevin de Bruyne both asked to come off before his side were knocked out in the Champions League quarter-finals by Real Madrid on penalties.

Both would probably have taken spot kicks if they had still been on the pitch, with City eventually going down 4-3 in the shootout after the tie finished 4-4 on aggregate.

Defender Manuel Akanji was the third player who needed replacing as a legacy of their recent injuries.

“They asked me to go out,” said Guardiola. “They could not continue.”

Haaland was replaced by Julian Alvarez, who scored his penalty, at the end of 90 minutes while De Bruyne, who netted City’s opening goal, came off in the first half of extra time.

The Belgian made way for Mateo Kovacic, whose effort was saved by Real goalkeeper Andriy Lunin.

The City boss offered no criticism of Kovacic or Bernardo Silva, who asked to take a penalty but sent a poor attempt straight at Lunin.

“Bernardo is a reliable player,” he said. “He wanted to take it. He decided to shoot in that way. It is what it is.”

City had 67% possession at the Etihad Stadium, 33 shots to eight and nine on target to Real Madrid’s three.

But it counted for nothing as City’s defence of the trophy they won so thrillingly against Inter Milan last June came to an end, at the same time as their hopes of an historic double Treble.

“Johan Cruyff said luck doesn’t exist, I agree with him,” said Guardiola.

“Losing like this hurts. We feel bad but we did everything. We have no regrets about what we have done.”

City have little time to pick themselves up given the face Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on Saturday.

Guardiola knows this defeat will sting, even though Real are the tournament heavyweights and will now be favoured to go on and lift the trophy for a record 15th time at Wembley in June.

“We played exceptional in all departments but unfortunately we did not win,” he said.

“You hope to create more and concede less because it helps you to win but we didn’t convert the chances we had.

“To beat Real Madrid you have to be at your best. We were at our best but it was not enough.”

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