Kyle Walker is forced to go IN GOAL for Manchester City after Claudio Bravo was sent off for lunge following Ederson’s first-half injury… and he makes more saves than both keepers combined!
- Kyle Walker had to go in goal for Manchester City for 10 minutes on Wednesday
- Claudio Bravo came on for the injured Ederson but was then sent off late on
- Walker emerged from the bench to take the gloves and kept Atalanta at bay
- City held on for a point that moves them closer to the Champions League last 16
Manchester City’s Champions League game against Atalanta descended into farce on Wednesday night when Kyle Walker had to go in goal for the English champions for a nervy final 10 minutes.
City endured a goalkeeping nightmare at the San Siro after losing Ederson at half-time only for his replacement, Claudio Bravo, to be sent off for hauling down Josip Ilicic as he ran through on goal.
That left Pep Guardiola without a goalkeeper and Walker heroically emerged from the bench to take the gloves for the final period of the game, even making a smart save to keep out a free kick.
Kyle Walker was brought on in goal for the final 10 minutes for Manchester City on Wednesday
Walker was called into action immediately but did well to get hold of a powerful free-kick
City did well to keep the ball as far away from their goal as possible while Walker was playing
City boss Pep Guardiola congratulates his defender on his performance between the posts
Ederson played the entire first half of the group game but didn’t re-emerge from the dressing room at the interval. Bravo came on in his place but conceded just minutes later thanks to Mario Pasalic’s powerful header.
Things went from bad to worse for the Chilean though as he was controversially sent off 10 minutes from time for bringing down Ilicic.
Referee Aleksei Kulbakov had no hesitation in showing the red card although Bravo took an age to leave the field as VAR reviewed the incident.
There was then another long delay before City were able to send on England defender Walker as a replacement goalkeeper, with Riyad Mahrez being sacrificed.
He was immediately called into action too, grabbing hold of Ruslan Malinovskiy’s powerful free kick at the second time of asking. The England defender also showed composure to grab hold of a lofted cross before crashing down to the turf to waste time.
Walker’s antics ensured he made more saves than Ederson and Bravo combined in Wednesday night’s match and he became the first Englishman to play in goal in the Champions League since Ben Hamer for Leicester in 2016.
After the game Walker admitted it was a mutual decision for the England international to don the gloves after Bravo’s dismissal.
He said: ‘It was a bit of both. I try sometimes to wind up the goalkeepers in training by telling them to catch it and stuff but as I found out tonight, sometimes you need two touches.
Claudio Bravo is shown a red card as the substitute was sent off for a reckless challenge
Josip Ilicic was brought down by the Chilean goalkeeper as he ran through on goal late on
‘All jokes aside, we came here to get a point or a victory. We knew it would be difficult because they go man-to-man and are in the Champions League for a reason.
‘To come away from here with how we ended the game with a draw is a good point and we take that on. Now the focus is on Liverpool for Sunday.’
He posted on Twitter afterwards saying: ‘Ladsss! Don’t worry, I’ve got this!!!’ before sending a more serious tweet that read: ‘Wasn’t expecting the night to end like this. Think I’ll stick to playing outfield though. Good point in the end and still unbeaten in the @ChampionsLeague.
Benjamin Mendy added: ‘I say thank you Kyle because it’s not easy to take this responsibility and he was a big goalkeeper and saved a free-kick and it’s one game we’re going to remember it if we go far in this cup.’
Walker was seen in conversation with the Frenchman after coming on and from that point City did extremely well to hold the ball in Atalanta territory and prevent them from testing Walker again.
City held on for a draw that still maintains their healthy position at the top of Group C.
Speaking after the game BT Sport pundit Owen Hargreaves said: ‘It was strange it really was.
‘Ederson’s gone off at half-time and Bravo’s come on and then gets himself sent off with a reckless, strange challenge. He had no need to come out so quick and Walker ends up in goal.
‘And from that point on Atalanta barely got the ball back. They never tested Walker. To be fair Atalanta were poor in the first half and in the second half they played really well and City took the foot off the gas.
‘But all things concerned, if you’re City you take the point and be happy.’
Fans took to social media after the game to joke about the situation, with some pointing out Walker has now become the third most expensive goalkeeper of all time following his £50million move from Tottenham in 2017.
Gary Lineker even suggested using Walker in goal could allow Guardiola to introduce another major tactical shift.
The BT Sport presenter tweeted: ‘Will Pep do away with goalkeepers? A natural progression.’
Comedian Jack Whitehall also made light of the subject, posting: ‘Far better sights in sport than an outfield player having to go in goal’.
It remains to be seen who will play in goal when City head to Anfield to take on Liverpool in a blockbuster Premier League clash this weekend. One thing is for certain, Walker will be ready in case Ederson cannot make it.