Man City 2 Leeds 1: Gundogan nets twice but misses pen as Guardiola rages at Haaland | The Sun

MAYBE Big Sam is onto something after all… at least Leeds United DID win the second half.

Mind you, if Manchester City had listened to their own manager it’s debatable whether he’d have been able to say the same.

Still, so much for ifs and buts. When Allardyce gets down to his first full week’s business as Leeds’ would-be saviour today, he’ll doubtless be making this point.

That his side, two down inside half an hour, had the balls and the bravery to hang on in there, grab a lifeline and leave the treble chasing all-stars praying for the final whistle.

And that, after Ilkay Gundogan’s quick fire early double, was the last thing anyone inside the Etihad would have expected, believe me.

With the possible exception, perhaps, of Big Sam, the man who last week put himself on a par with Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Co.


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Little he saw here will have deflated his ego, for all his side would have been on the back of a real whacking if City had been at anything like their usual clinical best.

Make no mistake, though, when Gundogan breached the lines twice, the pre-Sam Leeds would have crumbled and ended up leaking half a dozen.

How unbelievable, incredible, and – for Pep at least – absolutely enraging, that it was those in sky blue who ended up enduring a squeaky bum finale.

And you can see why the Spaniard was so furious, at his champion side’s failure to show the clinical, ruthless touch of, er, true champions.

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Gundogan missed late penaltyCredit: Getty
Pep Guardiola fumed at Haaland for not taking the penalty
With Rodrigo halving the deficit just moments laterCredit: Reuters

The moment that left Guardiola spitting mad came when Phil Foden was upended for a late penalty that would have made it three.

Everyone expected half-century striker Haaland to step up, especially with Riyad Mahrez – the only other likely candidate – had been subbed by that stage,

Instead the Norwegian handed the ball to Gundogan to hopefully complete a hat-trick, and it did seem a fair thing to do. Indeed, it actually got a ripple of applause from the fans.

Not from the touchline, though, as Guardiola raged and ranted that he wanted Haaland to take it.

So you can imagine how he felt when Gundogan stepped up, sidefooted his spot kick against the post…and almost straight away Rodrigo got Leeds back in it at the other end.

Haaland didn’t need an explanation. His manager’s finger-pointing fury spoke a thousand words. None, though, to Gundogan, when he was hooked and headed down the tunnel.

You could see Pep’s point. They should have been strolling to Spain on the back of one of their most comfortable victories of the season.

Leeds had barely laid a glove on them for 85 minutes, it was as close to training ground attack versus defence as you will see, and all pretty routine.

The perfect Pep pre ahead of tomorrow’s Champions League semi-final first leg at the Bernabeu, and a chance to start erasing the memory of last year’s dramatic same stage KO.

At least Sky Sports were laughing, even if Guardiola wasn’t. The first ever televised 3pm game had, to that point, been memorable only for that point and no other.

A 1,040th match as a manager for Sam, and resplendent he looked, too, in his dapper suit on the touchline. More like he was a guest at a royal wedding than a Premier League burial perhaps.

Because that’s what most people expect his four-game stint at Leeds gaffer to be…overseeing the Yorkshire giants plummet back into the division they fought for so long to leave.

To be fair to Allardyce, for all he is 68, the knees are still in good order, or how else would he have managed to stand throughout almost the entire game in his technical area.

So close to the pitch, in fact, that a yard further forward and he would have found himself taking a left-sided midfield role.

Maybe if he had been there, he would have been able to do something to prevent City’s two goals, because those in yellow shirts certainly couldn’t.

The first, on 19 minutes, was the product of a Kevin De Bruyne-Mahrez combination that was despatched into the bottom corner with a deadly first time sidefoot.

Fast forward eight minutes and City were celebrating a virtual carbon copy to double their lead, albeit with Haaland this time taking the De Bruyne role.

Yet the final low pulled back pass again came from Mahrez, and this time Gundogan took a touch with his left, before producing an equally clinical result.

Leeds weren’t at the races, but City couldn’t find another killer touch, as Haaland struck both bar and post rather than the usual rippling of the net.

And in the end, of course, he coughed up the greatest chance of all by tossing the ball to Gundogan…who rattled the woodwork and his manager in equal measure.

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Especially when Manuel Akanji’s poor clearing header struck Rodrigo and the Leeds striker made for a hairy finale for the champions.

No prizes for guessing which of the two gaffers was more content as they left the Etihad. And it wasn’t the Spaniard…

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