After watching his side held to a second successive 1-1 draw, this time in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with RB Leipzig, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola offered a novel solution to the visitors’ struggles to score more.
“Maybe in the second leg I will be crazy and play with nine strikers,” he joked.
Guardiola may have appeared in a positive mood after the game in Germany – and an away draw in a European knockout game is certainly not a result to be sniffed at – but it will likely still frustrate him that his side have not turned their recent dominance into more goals.
At the weekend they dropped two points in the Premier League title race after a first-half opener for City was cancelled out by a second-half equaliser by Nottingham Forest – and it was the same story at RB Leipzig.
City had been in total control in the opening 45 minutes yet only had Riyad Mahrez’s goal to show for it.
“You expect us to come here and win 0-5? That is not a reality,” Guardiola told BT Sport after the game.
“This is a competition that in the group stage many important teams are out. It is difficult. We are a good team and we do many, many good things. We continued to do this.
“People expect us to come here and win 4-0, I am sorry we are not able to do this.”
A quiet night for Haaland
City’s hopes of scoring more than the one goal were not helped by a quiet display from Erling Haaland.
The striker, who missed a number of chances at Forest, had just seven touches of the ball in the first half and none of those were in the opposition penalty box.
Haaland, usually so deadly with the few chances he gets, had a real opportunity to add a second for City after the break but dragged his shot well wide.
The Norway international has five goals in five Champions League games for Guardiola’s side this season, and has 32 overall, so of course is allowed the odd quiet game, but this was a particularly anonymous one.
By the end he had had 20 touches of the ball and just one shot on goal.
Mahrez, who scored his 20th goal in the Champions League, defended the work of his team-mate.
“He is a fast, powerful attacker and we know his qualities,” he said.
“It’s not up to him to win, to go get the ball. He’s not there to have 70 touches every game.”
Former Arsenal defending Matthew Upson, who was watching the game for BBC Radio 5 Live, said: “You can’t say he doesn’t do his job when you look at the numbers. I know he didn’t score tonight, but that’s his role, that’s how they play.
“His manager seems happy with it and he seems happy that he’s scoring loads of goals and going to be breaking records in terms of that.”