Pep Guardiola reveals Man City stars ignored his penalty order as he plots showdown talks


Pep Guardiola has revealed that he wanted Erling Haaland to take Manchester City’s penalty against Aston Villa rather than Riyad Mahrez.

City closed the gap with league leaders Arsenal to just three points on Sunday with a 3-1 win at the Etihad Stadium, creating the perfect storyline for Wednesday’s clash between the two sides.

Rodri opened the scoring for City early in the first half when he thundered his header past Emiliano Martinez. Gundogan was then on hand to double his side’s lead in the 39th minute with a simple tap-in after Haaland latched on to a loose pass.

Drama then unfolded on the cusp of halftime after Jack Grealish had won a penalty against his former side. Rodri, Riyad Mahrez and Haaland had all stepped forward to take the spot kick, though the situation was quickly diffused by Gundogan following a heated debate amongst City’s stars.

Eyebrows were raised after Mahrez was selected given his inconsistency from the spot, though the Algerian made no mistake to put the game to bed before the interval.

Rodri had confirmed after the game that he wanted to take the penalty, but relented when told to do so by Gundogan. However, Guardiola indicated after the game that he had wanted Haaland to take it.

“Normally Erling is the first taker,” said the manager. “I wanted that but Riyad always tries to do it, Rodri was involved. I don’t know what happened.

“Tomorrow we will speak with them. I like when people want to take penalties but always there is one that is the main one and that is Erling.”

The decision meant that Haaland – who has scored all four of his penalties in the Premier League this season – was not able to take his tally to 26 for the season before being substituted.

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