Pep Guardiola told Erling Haaland not to be so “generous” after the Norwegian handed over penalty duties to Ilkay Gundogan in Manchester City’s 2-1 win over Leeds on Saturday.
City appeared to be cruising to victory, that took them four points clear at the top of the Premier League, thanks to Gundogan’s first-half double.
But the German hit the post when handed the chance to seal his hat-trick and within a minute Rodrigo pulled a goal back to set up a nervy finale for the defending champions.
“The game is not over. It shows how nice and generous Erling is. If it is 4-0 with 10 minutes left, OK. But at 2-0? Erling is the best penalty taker right now so he has to take it,”
“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 can forget it.”Said Guardiola.
The decision to hand off responsibility rounded off a rare poor day for Haaland, who missed a number of chances to add to his 51 goals in all competitions this season.
City’s far superior goal difference over Arsenal means Guardiola’s men now likely need a maximum of eight points from their last four games to claim a fifth league title in six seasons.
Sam Allardyce’s return to the dugout had no immediate impact in reviving Leeds’ fortunes as they remain outside the relegation zone only on goal difference.
The former England boss was quickly teased with chants of “you’re getting sacked in the morning” as the visitors failed to offer any resistance to wave upon wave of City attack early on.
But he took heart by the manner in which his side finished the game.
“Second-half we sorted it out, and we got on the front foot to try and challenge them,”Said Allardyce.
After the national anthem was played just prior to kick-off to mark the coronation of King Charles III, the game quickly turned into a procession.
Guardiola could even afford the luxury of making seven changes with one eye on Tuesday’s trip to Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals.
Gundogan was one of those brought back into the side and showed Haaland how it is done as twice the German midfielder received passes from Riyad Mahrez and picked out the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
Kevin De Bruyne’s return from injury was another timely boost for City’s quest for a treble of trophies and the Belgian’s brilliant lay-off should have been buried by Haaland, who fired wide.
Haaland set a new Premier League record of 35 goals in a single season against West Ham on Wednesday.
And the 22-year-old will think he should have had a seventh hat-trick of his first season in English football let alone walk away empty-handed.
Haaland powered a header too close to Joel Robles and then fired against the post with just the goalkeeper to beat.
City were able to take their foot off the gas in the second half in seemingly perfect preparation for their revenge mission in Madrid.
But the mood changed drastically in 60 seconds as Gundogan’s penalty hit the post after Phil Foden was upended.
Guardiola was seen bellowing at Haaland “you have to take it” even before Rodrigo then pounced on an error by Manuel Akanji.
Gundogan was given a frosty reception by his manager when he was replaced in stoppage time, but City comfortably saw the game out to extend their lead at the top of the table.
“First he showed to Erling that he was quite mad about that and then also he had a go at me,”
“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.”Said Gundogan.