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Man City dealt defensive blow against Madrid as tearful Laporte limps off

20:36 GMT 26/02/2020
Aymeric Laporte Manchester City Real Madrid 2019-20
The French defender has missed the vast bulk of the current season through injury and may be set for another spell out

Manchester City were left thin on the ground defensively against Real Madrid after losing Aymeric Laporte to injury in the first half. 

City boss Pep Guardiola chose an uncharacteristically conservative game-plan on his return to Santiago Bernabeu, leaving both Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero on the bench while Gabriel Jesus played out on the left flank in a clear nod to the hosts' attacking capabilities in their Champions League last-16 first leg. 

But City's hopes were dealt a huge blow early on as one of their centre-backs was forced to withdraw from play. 

With just over 30 minutes on the clock Laporte pulled up in visible pain and requested treatment from the club medics. 

But it quickly became apparent that the defender would not be able to play on, and although he was able to limp off the pitch the tears in Laporte's eyes betrayed his discomfort. 

With no direct replacement available on the City bench, defensive midfielder Fernandinho entered the action alongside Nicolas Otamendi in the middle of the backline, with John Stones ultimately left out of the substitutes. 

Laporte has suffered repeated injury setbacks so far in the 2019-20 season, with his absences keenly felt as City's defence has struggled to match the imperious standards set in last year's title-winning campaign. 

A knee problem kept the Frenchman out for the first five months of the season, and he was hailed as the "best left-sided centre-back in the world" upon his return by Guardiola - a tag that the player himself tried to brush off. 

“You would have to ask him about that, but I think it’s great to hear that from this manager because he’s one of the best in the world, if not the best,” Laporte said.

“I’m very happy to hear that, but I have to work to be this. I have to keep going to stay there [at the top].

“I’m happy to be back on the field. It was very important for me to be back with the team, to be involved in everything."

Wednesday's clash at the Bernabeu was only Laporte's eighth appearance of the current term, and his first in the Champions League.