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Pep Guardiola issues four-word reason for Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne Real Madrid shoot-out absence



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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has revealed the reason for withdrawing attacking duo Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne during extra-time against Real Madrid.

The Sky Blues suffered a quarter-final exit in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday night, as Manchester City’s hopes of retaining their European crown were crushed by Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium during a heartbreaking penalty shoot-out defeat.

Pep Guardiola’s side were dumped out of the competition at the last-eight stage for the first time since 2020, as a 3-4 shoot-out loss also ended Manchester City’s ambition of retaining last season’s historic treble.

Kevin De Bruyne’s 76th minute goal cancelled out Rodrygo’s 12th minute strike on Wednesday evening, with the tie level at 4-4 on aggregate after extra-time, following a 3-3 first-leg result at the Santiago Bernabéu last Tuesday.

Manchester City, who knocked-out Real Madrid last season, registered 33 attempts against the Spanish side during the second-leg, and also had 68% possession and 18 corners – a dominant display over 120 minutes.

Both Erling Haaland and De Bruyne were unable to take a penalty during the shoot-out however, with both player’s having previously taken spot kicks for the Sky Blues.

Haaland, who scored a penalty against Luton Town on Saturday, was replaced by Julian Alvarez at the start of extra-time, meanwhile De Bruyne was replaced by Mateo Kovacic in the 112th minute.

Guardiola has revealed that the pair, alongside centre-back Manuel Akanji, requested to be replaced on Wednesday evening, leading to fitness fears ahead of Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea.

“They could not continue,” said Guardiola.

“The game we were playing they were amazing and I am not a big fan of making a lot of substitutions Manu [Akanji], Erling [Haaland] and Kevin [De Bruyne] asked me to go out.”

Manchester City face Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on Saturday evening, prior to crunch Premier League fixtures against Brighton and Nottingham Forest, after the Cityzens opened up a slender two-point lead at the top of the Premier League table last weekend.

Guardiola’s side could still retain the FA Cup and win a record-breaking fourth successive league title this season, with six Premier League matches remaining.