He’s a keeper: Kyle Walker is forced to go in goal for Manchester City after Claudio Bravo sees red for late lunge following Ederson’s first-half injury… and he almost fumbles free-kick within first minute against Atalanta
Manchester City’s Champions League game against Atalanta descended into farce on Wednesday night when Kyle Walker had to go in for for the English champions for 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 after 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, evening making a smart save to keep out a free kick.
Kyle Walker was brought on in goal for the final 10 minutes for Manchester Cit 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
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 minutes later thanks to Mario Pasalic’s powerful header.
Things went from bad to worse for the Chilean as he was controversially sent off 10 minutes from time for bringing down Ilicic. After lengthy delays brought on by a VAR check and City deciding who would go in goal, Walker ran onto the pitch wearing the gloves.
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 became the first Englishman to play in goal since Ben Hamer for Leicester in 2016.
Walker said after the game: ‘Did I volunteer? I think it was a bit of both, I try and sometimes banter the keepers in training but I found you sometimes have to take 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
‘We came here for a point or victory. To come away from here with a draw is a good point.’
Walker was seen in conversation with Benjamin Mendy and from that point on City did extremely well to hold the ball in Atalanta territory and prevent them from testing Walker again.
Kyle Walker had to play in goal for the closing minutes but City held on for a draw that still maintains their healthy position at the top of Group C.
Speaking after the game 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.’
More to follow.