Pep reacts to autograph-seeking ref

UEFA Champions League

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has defended the assistant referee who asked Erling Haaland for his autograph following Tuesday's match against Borussia Dortmund. 

City recorded a 2-1 win over Dortmund in the home leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final tie, with Phil Foden popping up with a later winner after Marco Reus had cancelled out Kevin De Bruyne's opening goal.

However, it was the match officials who made all the headlines first with referee Ovidiu Hatega controversially disallowing a goal from BVB's Jude Bellingham, and later through one of the Romanian assistants who was recorded asking Haaland for his autograph after the match.

When asked about the night's controversial decisions, Guardiola refused to be drawn to comment on the match officials' performance in order to avoid running the risk of facing a disciplinary sanction from UEFA.

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"Listen, better not to talk about Champions League refs, I’m not going to speak now," Guardiola said, per the Manchester Evening News. "We have a huge list about this kind of situation in this competition so it’s better to make no comment. The ref made this decision..."

The former FC Barcelona boss then played down the significance of the assistant asking for Haaland's signature after the match, before finally sharing his critique of the officiating in Manchester.

"They told me [about it], I didn’t see it. Maybe he’s a fan, why not?" Guardiola added. "The referees were brilliant, the game was not a problem.

"It was not a penalty, the VAR said that and the leg is higher from Bellingham. So they were perfect and it was correct. Maybe it was for his son or daughter. It happens but they did a good job, that’s all. Nothing happened."

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