'I took him off to protect Messi's FA Cup record' - Pep Guardiola's BIZARRE snipe at journalists after substituting hat-trick hero Erling Haaland early in second half again

Haaland Guardiola MessiGetty / GOAL
  • Guardiola referenced Messi after Haaland sub
  • Previously accused of protecting Messi's UCL record
  • Haaland was removed after 63 minutes despite hat-trick

WHAT HAPPENED? In the latest of a string of bizarre press conference appearances, Guardiola defended taking Haaland off in the 63rd minute after the Norwegian had scored a hat-trick in the 6-0 drubbing of Burnley in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

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WHAT THEY SAID: "I make a substitution because I didn't want him to break the record that Messi had in the FA Cup in England," Guardiola told a press conference. "I always want to punish my players, that is my intention."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Haaland scored five goals against RB Leipzig on Tuesday, becoming only the second player along with Messi to score five times in a Champions League knockout match. The coach took him off in the 63rd minute of that match, prompting some people on social media to speculate that he did it to prevent Haaland from breaking Messi's record, which came against Bayer Leverkusen in 2012, when Guardiola was coach of Barcelona.


Erling Haaland Manchester City matchball smileGetty ImagesLionel Messi BarcelonaGOALPep Guardiola Man CityGetty

AND WHAT'S MORE? Guardiola has made a string of bizarre comments to the media this year. In January he declared "I don't want a happy flowers team" after City's 4-2 comeback win over Tottenham. And on Tuesday after the thrashing of RB Leipzig he left journalists baffled when he said he was hugely disappointed that Julia Roberts went to visit Manchester United and not City when she came to Manchester. That's not to mention his constant venting after poor results.

WHAT NEXT FOR PEP GUARDIOLA? The coach revealed he will visit Barcelona and Abu Dhabi during the international break. City return to action on April 1 against Liverpool.

How many Premier League goals will Erling Haaland score this season?

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How many Premier League goals will Erling Haaland score this season?

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