Kyle Walker to the rescue as Man City trip up in Atalanta
Defender forced to don the goalkeeper's gloves
Manchester City’s unbeaten record in this season’s Champions League was somehow extended in Italy as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Atalanta. A second half goal from Chelsea loannee Mario Pasalic cancelled out an early strike by Raheem Sterling as the Group C minnows prevented City from qualifying for the last 16 with two matches to spare.
With a five point advantage over second place Shakhtar Donetsk the Citizens are still set fair to qualify, but it was an unsatisfactory evening for Pep Guardiola’s side, and one that ended with defender Kyle Walker in goal.
Boos for Bravo
The England star had to step between the sticks ten minutes from time after substitute goalkeeper Claudio Bravo was sent off for a sliding tackle on Josip Ilicic outside the box. Bravo had replaced the injured Ederson at half-time and his departure forced Walker to don the gloves. Straight away he was in action, saving smartly from Ruslan Malinovskyi’s free-kick.
At the other end, Atalanta keeper Pierluigi Gollini saved a first half penalty from Gabriel Jesus but it was the brief exploits of Walker that created waves on social media.
Keep calm and carry on
He uploaded a picture of himself on instagram decked out in his new strip alongside the caption: “Ladsss! Don’t worry, I’ve got this!!!” while teammate Raheem Sterling tweeted: “I’m sorry but this was too funny broooo @kylewalker2 (I wouldn’t trust you holding my baby tho)”
Asked why Walker had been given the gloves, City manager Pep Guardiola explained: “Xabier Mancisidor, our goalkeeping coach, suggested Kyle for his courage.”
The Spaniard was also pleased with the resolve of the rest of the squad, despite the dropped points: “Everyone knows how difficult it is to play Atalanta so the fact that we have taken four points off them is a big success for us particularly with the injuries and difficulties,” he said. “We played well in the first half and then dug deep in the second.”
The ‘new’ Neymar
In other results, Brazilian forward Rodrygo scored a hat-trick in Real Madrid’s 6-0 thrashing of Galatasaray. The 18-year-old became the second youngest player to score a Champions League treble (after Real’s Raul) and the teenager is already being talked of as the ‘new’ Neymar. Nonetheless, the Spanish giants remain five points adrift of PSG in Group A as the French champions won 1-0 at home to Club Bruges, their goal coming on 21 minutes from Mauro Icardi.
Meanwhile runaway Group B leaders Bayern Munich booked their place in the last 16 with a 2-0 win against Olympiakos. Robert Lewandowski’s goal means the Polish striker has scored in all 14 of Bayern’s matches this season.