Pep Guardiola has explained why he opted to introduce Kyle Walker as an emergency goalkeeper in Manchester City’s Champions League clash against Atalanta
Winners in all three of their opening Group C matches, the Premier League giants visited dead-last Atalanta at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on Wednesday and were held to a 1-1 draw.
Raheem Sterling broke the deadlock in the seventh minute, but Gabriel Jesus wasted a spot-kick on the stroke of halftime, allowing the Serie A outfit to bounce back and level the score four minutes inside the second half.
However, Claudio Bravo, who replaced the injured Ederson at the break, brought down Josip Ilicic in the 81st minute, leaving Guardiola’s men high and dry.
The Spaniard had no more shot-stoppers on the bench, and he had a big decision to make in the closing stage of the encounter.
Kyle Walker was eventually elected to come in as an emergency goalkeeper in the moments when the referee Aleksei Kulbakov awarded a free-kick on the edge of the area for La Dea.
Indeed, the 29-year-old right-back came to the rescue, denying Ruslan Malinovsky’s effort to help his team walk away from Italy with a point.
Luckily for the traveling side, it was Atalanta’s only shot on target since the expulsion of Bravo, but Guardiola has nevertheless praised Walker’s bravery.
“We didn’t know before but Xavi Mancisidor, our goalkeeper coach, suggested him for his courage, and because he is quick,” he told the Manchester Evening News.
“We are lucky we only conceded one shot on target when he was in goal, but congratulations for the courage and desire to help the team in this position.”
The Citizens came one step away from securing a place in the knockout stage, leaving Atalanta at the bottom of the section with a single point from four group fixtures.