Erling Braut Haaland has become such a superstar, even match officials appear to want his autograph.
After Borussia Dortmund’s 2-1 defeat by Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-final first leg, one of the Romanian assistant referees followed Haaland down the tunnel at Etihad Stadium, with his flag under his arm, and appeared to get him to sign a red and yellow card he produced from his top pocket.
“You shouldn’t be [doing that] anyway,” said BT Sport pundit Owen Hargreaves. “The officials had a job to do and a difficult first half. They got a lot of things wrong. You can be a fan but you can’t do that in front of other players – it doesn’t look right.”
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola – who wants to sign Haaland – seemed less fussed.
“Maybe he’s a fan of Haaland,” said Guardiola. “Maybe it was for his son or daughter.
“I’ve never seen it before, but the referee and the linesman were correct, they did a good job. That’s all.”
Referee Ovidiu Hategan and his team were involved in two controversial incidents in the first half, most notably the decision to disallow a Jude Bellingham goal.
The English teenager thought he had equalised for Dortmund as he beat Ederson to a through ball and tapped into an empty net, but the official blew for a foul on the goalkeeper and booked Bellingham.
Replays indicated it was not a foul but since play had stopped after the whistle was blown, it was not overturned by the video assistant referee.
Bellingham said: “I definitely think I won the ball fairly. It’s a bit frustrating in a time when they’ve got so many cameras watching the game that they don’t wait for me to put the ball in the net and then check it.”
Officials also awarded City a soft penalty, mistakenly deciding Emre Can had caught Rodri – but that was overturned by the VAR.
Phil Foden’s late winner gave City a 2-1 win. Kevin de Bruyne had put the runaway Premier League leaders ahead but Haaland set up Marco Reus for an equaliser.
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