Pep Guardiola revealed he didn’t want to risk Erling Haaland in Manchester City’s Champions League draw at FC Copenhagen because the striker was “so, so tired”.
The prolific Haaland was named on the bench and watched City, reduced to 10 men after Sergio Gomez was sent off, played a goalless draw in the Danish capital on Tuesday.
Haaland, who has scored 20 goals in just 13 games, was thought to have been held back ahead of Sunday’s Premier League trip to Liverpool, but Guardiola hinted his selection decision could have been more.
The City manager said of the 22-year-old: “He finished the game against Southampton so, so tired and didn’t recover well.
“Yesterday wasn’t good, today he was a little better but not perfect so we decide not to take the risk.”
Guardiola felt Haaland wasn’t the only player feeling the effects of his recent efforts.
He said: “I was thinking about energy levels. Many players didn’t start because they are really exhausted from fatigue and some trifles.
“Phil (Foden) also has some problems and Bernardo (Silva) was so tired yesterday, he told us. The players I played against felt better.”
The Group G clash in a noisy Parken stadium was close to closing but not much of a talking point after referee Artur Dias made repeated visits to the pitchside monitor.
The VAR advised him to do so three times in the first half, with his interventions resulting in a disallowed goal, a penalty and a red card.
Rodri was unlucky from the first call, his superb goal being canceled out after Riyad Mahrez was controversially penalized for handball.
Mahrez could have been the beneficiary of the next review after it was decided Nicolai Boilesen was treated in the area but Kamil Grabara saved his penalty.
Gomez was then sent off after another check after a tangle with Hakon Haraldsson on the edge of the box.
As a result, City were down a man for 60 minutes and Guardiola was delighted as they conceded defeat.
He said: “Playing like that for an hour is tough. The width of the field made it difficult to control.
“We had a lot of possession and in the last 10 minutes when Phil came on I felt like maybe we could break it but the players gave absolutely everything.
“That’s a good point and we’ll take it. i am so satisfied Tomorrow we will regenerate and then we have two days to prepare (play) against Liverpool.”
Asked if he understood the handball decisions. Guardiola said ‘no’ but added he ‘didn’t see’ her.
Copenhagen coach Jacob Neestrup, whose side were beaten 5-0 in Manchester last week, felt his players made the club proud.
He said: “We would have also played 0-0 against City tonight at 11 against 11, 100 per cent.
“It was primarily a team effort. It was a great job from the coaching staff and the players.”