Manchester City were left ruing Riyad Mahrez’s penalty-taking abilities as they were held to a goalless draw against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday night.
While the result was enough for Man City to secure top spot in Group G with one game to play, Pep Guardiola will have wanted a win to keep the momentum going as his side look to end the first half of the season on a high. Guardiola made six changes from their win over Brighton at the weekend but he was still able to name a strong starting XI, with the likes of Phil Foden, Joao Cancelo, Mahrez, Ruben Dias, Ilkay Gundogan and Erling Haaland all in from the off.
But they were once again frustrated by Dortmund particularly in the first half, with the hosts having six shots with four on target to Man City’s four (none of which hit the target). Mats Hummels in particular rolled back the years with a fine performance, which also secured Dortmund their spot in the last 16.
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At half time, Guardiola perhaps felt less urgent to win, bringing Haaland off for Bernardo Silva and giving the Norwegian some rest ahead of Saturday’s early kick-off against Leicester. But less than 15 minutes after the change, Guardiola may have been ruing his decision – even though he did later confirm Haaland was suffering with fever before the game.
With Man City on the attack, Emre Can attempted a lazy tackle inside the box, bringing Mahrez down. As good as Dortmund had been defensively, this momentary lapse in concentration from the German could have cost his side the result they needed to seal passage into the last 16.
With Haaland off the pitch, Mahrez took responsibility for the spot kick but his effort to the right of goalkeeper Gregor Kobel was well-met and saved. Mahrez had missed a penalty, and not for the first time in his Man City career. In fact, not even for the first time this season.
The Algerian has now taken three penalties across all competitions this season, missing two. He actually scored the first, in Man City’s 5-0 win over FC Copenhagen in the Champions League, going to the goalkeeper’s left. One week later in the reverse fixture against Copenhagen, Mahrez had another spot-kick and went the same way, only this time it was saved. The miss also cost Man City their perfect record, with the game finishing goalless.
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So that’s now two penalties in a row that Mahrez has missed in games which ended goalless and his fourth miss overall for Man City. Since joining the club in the 2017/18 season, Mahrez has taken 14 penalties for Man City, scoring 10, a decent record overall but his misses have all been costly.
Mahrez’s first penalty for Man City came in their trip to Anfield in 2018/19, in the dying stages, but he sent his shot high over the crossbar allowing Liverpool to hold onto a goalless draw. And then at the end of last season Mahrez missed a penalty in a 2-2 draw with West Ham, which could have put his side’s Premier League title hopes in jeopardy.
But let’s give Mahrez credit where it is due, there are also the 10 penalties scored. During the 2021/22 season alone Mahrez scored seven penalties across all competitions, including the equaliser in a 2-1 win over Arsenal on New Year’s Day. Stretching across his whole career, Mahrez has now missed 10 of the 32 penalties he has taken for club and country (not including shootouts).
With the miss, though, Guardiola has admitted he will look into the penalty problem for when Haaland isn’t on the pitch.
“We’ll see what happens,” he told BT Sport.
“Of course it’s a problem, since I was here we’ve missed 24 or 25 penalties, most of them in the Champions League. It’s too much. Always I admire the courage, to take responsibility to do it but of course we miss a lot of penalties.
“This is a problem. We missed in Copenhagen, here one, so we have to improve. Otherwise, the little details or margins in this competition makes the difference.”
Fans were also quick to comment on Mahrez’s miss and the overall Man City record.
Manchester City have missed 25 of the 80 penalties they've been awarded under Pep Guardiola (excluding shootouts).
It's the worse record out of any Premier Club during that time. pic.twitter.com/wYc1FLZToB
— Squawka (@Squawka) October 25, 2022
plus side: no one will ever call him Piyad Pahrez. https://t.co/DhyE0V45i4
— Muhammad Butt (@muhammadbutt) October 25, 2022
Why is Riyad Mahrez still taking penalties?
— Daniel Storey (@danielstorey85) October 25, 2022
— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) October 25, 2022
Pep Guardiola watching Riyad Mahrez miss another penalty pic.twitter.com/kCO4rkBhOT
— Midnite Football (@MidniteFtbl) October 25, 2022
I’m not sure Mahrez will get to take any more penalties for @ManCity.
— Gary Lineker 💙💛 (@GaryLineker) October 25, 2022
At this point, a Mahrez penalty miss in a major game is as epic and tragic as a Scorsese movie. True football theatre.
— Musa Okwonga (@Okwonga) October 25, 2022
It's gotten to a point where I'm not even surprised when Mahrez misses a penalty.
— Kwame Benaiah (@kwamebenaiah) October 25, 2022
Irrespective of the penalty miss, if I'm Jack Grealish I'm thinking how on earth has Riyad Mahrez been getting the nod over me in recent matches. That Grealish was coming into form makes it even more baffling.
— Alex Brotherton (@alex_brotherton) October 25, 2022
Riyad Mahrez has to be the worst penalty taker in history (of players to regularly take penalties).
— Matt (@TacticallyMatt) October 25, 2022