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Football Reporting

Borussia Dortmund

‘Maybe he’s a fan of Haaland’ – Man City boss Guardiola reacts to referee asking for Dortmund star’s autograph

The officials in the game at Etihad Stadium came under scrutiny – not least when one asked for the Norway star’s signature

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola brushed off any concerns over an assistant referee’s request for Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland’s autograph following Tuesday’s Champions League match.

City spent much of the quarter-final first leg ahead following Kevin De Bruyne’s first-half goal, but were rocked in the 84th minute when Marco Reus levelled for the visitors.

There was still time for one final twist, though, and it came courtesy of Phil Foden, who netted in injury time to give his side a 2-1 win at the Etihad Stadium. 

What was said? 

Jadon Sancho was angered to see a first-half goal for Jude Bellingham chalked off for a supposed foul on Ederson. “The ref needs checking,” the forward fired on his personal Twitter account. 

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There was further controversy after the game when an assistant asked Haaland for an autograph.

Pep, though, dismissed any complaints over the referee’s conduct, adding his belief that the officials did a great job in the match.

“They told me – I didn’t see it,” Guardiola said of the autograph request. “Maybe he’s a fan of Haaland so why not? 

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“Maybe it was for his son and daughter. I’ve never seen it before but they did a good job.

“The referees were brilliant, the game was not a problem so it’s not a penalty after the VAR, people told me it was not a penalty.

“And after the Bellingham action, his leg is higher than expected so the linesman was perfect. It was not an influence like it was in the past.”

The bigger picture

While City hold a slim advantage over Dortmund from the first leg, Reus’ away goal means the Bundesliga side still have all to play for going into the second leg on home soil. 

That match will take place on April 14, with the winner going through to the semi-final stage of the competition. 

Should Guardiola’s charges progress, they will maintain their hopes of an unprecedented quadruple of the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup, with the final of the latter set to be played on April 25 against Tottenham.

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