Pep Guardiola said he had no issue with one of the assistant referees asking for Erling Haaland’s autograph after Manchester City’s Champions League quarter-final win over Borussia Dortmund.
Haaland was approached by assistant Octavian Sovre after the final whistle while making his way to the Etihad’s away dressing room and appeared to sign a notepad at the official’s request.
The 20-year-old Dortmund striker is the subject of transfer interest from several leading European clubs, including City, and remains the leading scorer in this season’s Champions League despite failing to find the net in a 2-1 defeat.
Sovre’s post-match actions were not the only controversial moment for the officials, with referee Ovidiu Hategan criticised for his performance.
Hategan awarded a first-half penalty to City which was overturned by VAR, then penalised Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham despite winning the ball fairly in a challenge with goalkeeper Ederson and going on to score.
Hategan’s decision to blow the whistle before Bellingham rolled the ball into the empty net meant that the call could not be reviewed. Bellingham was shown a yellow card for the foul despite being kicked by Ederson.
Guardiola initially said that he did not wish to comment on the officials in his post-match press conference, but went on to describe their performance as “perfect”, adding that he saw no issue with either the Bellingham decision or the post-match autograph.
“They told me, I didn’t see it,” he said of the autograph incident. “Maybe he’s a fan. If he’s a fan for Haaland and he’s here, why not?
“The referees were brilliant. The game was not a problem. It was a penalty but after they saw the VAR, the people told me it was not a penalty.
“And after Bellingham, the action from the leg is higher than expected. The referees and the linesman was correct, was perfect. It was not an influence like it was in the past. It was correct.
“And after, maybe [the autograph] was for his son or daughter, I don’t know. I’ve never seen it before but it’s happened. Listen, they did a good job so that’s it. Nothing happened.”