Pep Guardiola admits it was ‘not easy’ for Erling Haaland in Man City’s draw away to Real Madrid

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Pep Guardiola admitted Real Madrid were successful in keeping Erling Haaland quiet as Manchester City earned a draw at the Bernabeu.

Superb strikes from Vinicius Jr and Kevin De Bruyne left the Champions League semi-final tie level heading to the second leg in Manchester next week, with home advantage giving City a slight edge over defending champions Real Madrid.

Haaland had two tame efforts saved early in the match, but largely struggled as Antonio Rudiger in particular stuck tight to him. The striker had fewer touches than anyone else on the pitch, with half as many as Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

“The pockets and distances between the central defenders and full-backs was occupied for attacking midfielders,” Guardiola explained.

“For [Luka] Modric, Toni Kroos and [Federico] Valverde. Twin central defender close to Erling, it was not easy for him. He moved well and had his chances.”

City will be hoping Haaland can deliver in the second leg and add to his tally of 12 Champions League goals this season and 51 in all competitions, as Guardiola’s side look to move a step closer to winning the competition for the first time.

They had the better of the first-half despite trailing at half-time, but then scored against the run of play themselves through De Bruyne after the break, setting the stage for what the City boss has described as a “play-off” at the Etihad.

“When we were better they score, when they were better we score,” Guardiola said.

“Tight, tight game. The Bernabeu in the semi-final, sometimes we had good moments and sometimes it was difficult with the quality they have on the ball. Final next Wednesday at home with our people.

“They are so demanding, with the experience and quality. We are travelling to Manchester and we will see what we can do better.

“When you play this kind of game it is like a play-off, so hopefully we can learn, defend better and attack better.”