Champions League

Pep Guardiola Reacts to Referee Asking Erling Haaland for an Autograph After Champions League Clash

Erling Haaland was bizarrely asked for his autograph by the assistant referee
Erling Haaland was bizarrely asked for his autograph by the assistant referee / Michael Regan/Getty Images

Pep Guardiola defended referee Octavian Sovre for asking Erling Haaland for his autograph following Borussia Dortmund's 2-1 defeat by Manchester City in the Champions League on Tuesday night.

Marco Reus cancelled out Kevin De Bruyne's first half strike, but a 90th minute winner from Phil Foden saw the visitors slump to a defeat in the first leg of the quarter-final. Haaland played the full 90 minutes, and while the striker certainly has fans off the field, he has them on the pitch, too.

Romanian official Sovre cornered him for a signature in the tunnel as the players were heading back to their dressing rooms, raising questions over his conduct. Joleon Lescott and Owen Hargreaves heavily criticised the official's actions.

Speaking on BT Sport, Hargreaves said: "They had a difficult first-half and they got a lot of things wrong in that first-half. You can be a fan, but you can't do that in front of the other players, it just doesn't look right."

However, City boss Guardiola dismissed any complaints over the referee's conduct, adding his belief that the officials did a great job in the match.

"They told me – I didn’t see it," Guardiola said of the autograph request. "Maybe he’s a fan of Haaland so why not? Maybe it was for his son and daughter. I’ve never seen it before but they did a good job.

"The referees were brilliant, the game was not a problem so it's not a penalty after the VAR, people told me it was not a penalty. And after the Bellingham action, his leg is higher than expected so the linesman was perfect. It was not an influence like it was in the past."