Pep Guardiola gave Erling Haaland a big kiss right in front of the cameras after Manchester City’s European Super Cup triumph.
Champions League holders City won the competition for the first time in their history on Wednesday night by beating Europa League winners Sevilla on penalties. The game in Athens finished 1-1 after Cole Palmer’s goal cancelled out Youssef En-Nesyri’s opener.
A lot of the pre-game talk was on Guardiola’s relationship with Haaland after the City boss berated the player in public during their 3-0 win against Burnley last Friday night. The bust-up happened at half-time and right in front of a camera at Turf Moor. Guardiola has tried to downplay his row with Haaland, who scored twice during the first half against Burnley, in press conferences. Yet the former Barcelona manager went one step further on Wednesday night with a public show of affection.
Guardiola has now won his 15th trophy with City after their European Super Cup triumph. The other 14 trophies he’s brought to the Etihad are five Premier League titles, four League Cups, two FA Cups, two Community Shields and the Champions League.
“I’m proud, a lot,” Guardiola told reporters. “We knew it from moments earlier in the season and the quality of opponent. We were lucky because Eddy (Ederson), like in the final moments of the Champions League final, saved us in the right moments.
“In general, the game was really good, though we played better in the last 30 minutes of the second half. One week ago we lost to penalties (against Arsenal in the Community Shield). Today, we won it.”
Guardiola added: “We could have scored before the penalty kicks but tomorrow we will be even more happier than today. We are really delighted to have this title. Now in December we have the chance to win the Club World Cup.”
Guardiola’s heated row with Haaland last Friday night raised eyebrows, with Gary Neville questioning why the City boss needed to hammer one of his players in public. “I played for one of the most intense managers in the history of the game (Sir Alex Ferguson) – but he’d never have done that on the pitch in such a way,” said Neville on commentary.
Explaining his actions to the press, Guardiola said: “There’s no problem at all. It was about a connection with the players. He wanted the ball in behind him and that ball hasn’t to be in behind. Sometimes you have to be patient to find the right moment.
“He was not frustrated, I am not frustrated. In football it happens. Don’t be dramatic. He scored two goals and he’s happy. He was tremendous in the second-half. We know how good he is in front of goal.”