Man City seal top spot despite Mahrez penalty miss against Dortmond
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola acknowledges his team has a “problem” with penalties after they clinched first place in their Champions League group with a 0-0 draw against Borussia Dortmund despite Riyad Mahrez’s miss from the spot.
Since the Catalan took over in 2016, City has failed to score 25 of their 80 penalties, excluding shootouts.
Emre Can fouled Mahrez, who stepped up, but Gregor Kobel made the correct decision to save his kick.
With the draw, Borussia Dortmund also advanced to the last 16, so both teams will be pleased with the outcome.
“Since I’ve been here we’ve missed 25 penalties, most of them in the Champions League,” Guardiola said.
“It’s too many. You always have to admire the courage, but missing so many penalties is a problem.
“We have to improve. It comes down to fine margins in this competition and these situations can make the difference.”
City’s Champions League penalty scoring record (71%, 12/17) is actually slightly better than their Premier League record (69%, 36/52).
Former Scotland forward James McFadden, watching the game for BBC Radio 5 Live, said: “I think it was a very good penalty from Mahrez. It’s a side foot with a lot of power, what a save.”
Mahrez has now missed three of his past four penalties for City, after scoring nine of his first 10.
City boss Guardiola surprisingly replaced top scorer Erling Haaland at half-time after just 13 touches. He revealed afterwards that the Norwegian had a fever and a knock.
Dortmund had good chances too, with 17-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko slotting wide and debutant City keeper Stefan Ortega making several saves.
City will be happy to have won their Champions League group with a game to spare, but it is just one win in their past four games in all competitions now.
Last time out in Europe they drew 0-0 in Copenhagen, and then lost their unbeaten record to Liverpool in the league – before beating Brighton on Saturday.
Guardiola mixed things up with his line-up in Dortmund, giving a debut to 29-year-old keeper Ortega, a summer signing, with Ederson left on the bench.
The German did well to deny Karim Adeyemi and Moukoko in the first half.
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Julian Alvarez, who played behind Haaland, made his fourth start for the club, and was one of only three players to test Kobel – along with Ilkay Gundogan and Mahrez with his failed penalty, all in the second half.
Nathan Ake headed a decent chance over too.
If Haaland, who scored 22 goals in his first three months at City, was still available, he may have accepted it.
Cancelo was also substituted, another player who will be unhappy with his performance in the first half, with Adeyemi getting the better of him on multiple times out wide.
It’s all academic in the end, with City dominating the group despite a grueling pre-World Cup schedule – but recent performances have fallen short of their early-season swashbuckling brilliance.