A magnanimous gesture by Manchester City’s goal-machine Erling Haaland left Pep Guardiola fuming on Saturday.
This was after the Norwegian striker ignored his manager’s instructions to take a penalty kick and handed the ball to team mate Ilkay Gundogan.
The German midfielder had scored a first-half brace to put the English Premier League leaders 2-0 up against Leeds United.
But Guardiola yelled from the sidelines for the 22-year-old Haaland to take the penalty kick they had been awarded in the closing minutes.
However, Haaland, who has already scored a Premier League single season record of 35 goals, glanced at Guardiola before handing the ball to Gundogan for him to complete a hat-trick.
It was a move that sent the Spanish manager into fits of rage, especially as Gundogan’s effort was pushed aside by a diving goalkeeper Joel Robles.
“If Gundo scores, everyone is ‘OK, hat-trick, well done’,” Guardiola said following Manchester City’s 2-1 victory.
“But a taker is a taker. At 2-0, this is a business, not a situation where we cannot forget it.”
The 32-year-old Gundogan felt the heat from Guardiola when he stepped up to the penalty kick spot.
“First he showed to Erling that he was quite mad about that, and then also he had a go at me,” Gundogan told reporters. “It is what it is at the end.
“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. He was certain to hand the ball to me. I was confident to score.”
Haaland had several excellent scoring chances, with a shot that bounced off the crossbar and another that glanced off the post.
With Manchester City in pursuit of their third successive Premier League title, and the win having extended their lead over second-placed Arsenal to four points, Guardiola’s mood somewhat later improved.
“The performance was excellent. We played really, really good,” the Spaniard, whose side have four league games left this season, said by the time he met reporters post-game.
“Who knows if Erling takes the penalty kick and miss it? What happen if Gundo takes the penalty kick and score? So, the question is 2-0, who is the taker? The taker is Erling.
“Second point is that is how Erling is as a person. He is incredible, wants to score goals, but at the same time, the team, the mates are important.
“He had chances to score goals, he didn’t convert, but he played an outstanding game.
“But a taker is a taker. At 2-0, this is a business, not a situation where we cannot forget it.
“Especially in England, it never is over and I want the taker who has more routine, who is a specialist, to take it.”
Treble-chasing Manchester City next head to Real Madrid for the first leg of their 2022/2023 UEFA Champions League semi-final fixture on Tuesday.(Reuters/NAN)