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    5. Bernardo Silva's penalty: what was he thinking?


    Bernardo Silva's penalty: what was he thinking?

    Bernardo Silva could only watch as his timid penalty was easily saved by the almost static Andrei Lunin in the Real Madrid goal. Photo: Shutterstock/Peter Powell

    All but a small handful of Manchester City players and staff had already retired to the dressing room, stunned and no doubt a little embarrassed by what had just happened, by the time Bernardo Silva began his slowly making his way off the pitch.

    Erling Haaland took it upon himself to escort his dejected team-mate and as the little and big pair approached the touchline, City's number nine didn't take too kindly to the TV camera pointed at Portuguese, decided to capture his crushing grief.

    Parting from Bernardo for a moment to fend off the camera the way a burly bodyguard might protect an overzealous fan while protecting a star client, Haaland quickly put his arm around the midfielder's shoulder and dragged him down the tunnel.

    For a player who has barely made a single mistake in a game his team has dominated, a player who makes the right decision time and time again, a player who is the very epitome of precision and poise, the sight of Bernardo committing such a hodgepodge of his penalties is almost seemed like a figment of the imagination.

    In the expensive seats in front of the press box, City fans, who had scored twice, looked back at each other to make sure they had actually seen the same thing, and when reality dawned, the first the thought was: what is he thinking about? Real Madrid goalkeeper Andrei Lunin, of course, could not believe his luck.

    The City midfielder can't get over his penalty miss, which he won't want to watch replayed. Photo: Getty Images/Stu Forster

    After Julián Álvarez scored the first penalty before Luka Modric missed Real Madrid's first penalty, the momentum was in City's hands, but it was intercepted just as Bernardo decided to pass the ball straight into the hands of a grateful Lunin, and, in truth, the European champions never recovered from the shock of it all.

    What was he thinking? Clarity of thought is one of Bernardo's greatest traits, but his punishment resembled the work of a man stuck in doublethink. It was neither a well-camouflaged panenka nor a rifled shot into the central part of the goal, but simply a manual, almost apologetic blow with the left boot, as if a father was carefully throwing a small son or daughter.

    If only he had shown the conviction later shown by City goalkeeper Ederson, who kept his team's prayers alive by firing a spot-kick low into the bottom corner, but hopes of a second successive Champions League crown were snuffed out by the goalkeeper's right boot. Antonio Rüdiger.

    A forgettable penalty shootout for Manchester City 🫣#UCL

    — Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) April 17, 2024

    It was a strange penalty shootout. On both sides, most of the usual takers were either unavailable to their manager or other factors were at play, but it was certainly unusual to see Mateo Kovacic (who missed) and Nacho (who scored) step up when players like City's Rodri who recently scored two penalties for Spain against Brazil, and Real Madrid's Federico Valverde stood the test.

    How Pep Guardiola would love to be able to call up Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne. Both, along with Manuel Akanji, asked to leave without being able to give more. In the case of De Bruyne and Akanji it was understandable – they ran into the ground in extra time – but Haaland?

    It was another of those recent big games in which the Norwegian striker was eliminated. missing. It wasn't until the 37th minute that he completed a pass, one of five successful passes he made on the night, and of his 21 touches, not a single one produced the goal his side so desperately craved. He did hit the crossbar with his header, but that was about as good as it got.

    In the end, all he could do was watch helplessly as the penalty shootout quickly went away ” City” and there was nothing left to do but console the inconsolable Bernardo.

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