After watching his side held to a second successive 1-1 draw, this time in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with RB Leipzig, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola offered a novel solution to the visitors’ struggles to score more.

“Maybe in the second leg I will be crazy and play with nine strikers,” he joked.

Guardiola may have appeared in a positive mood after the game in Germany – and an away draw in a European knockout game is certainly not a result to be sniffed at – but it will likely still frustrate him that his side have not turned their recent dominance into more goals.

At the weekend they dropped two points in the Premier League title race after a first-half opener for City was cancelled out by a second-half equaliser by Nottingham Forest – and it was the same story at RB Leipzig.

City had been in total control in the opening 45 minutes yet only had Riyad Mahrez’s goal to show for it.

“You expect us to come here and win 0-5? That is not a reality,” Guardiola told BT Sport after the game.

“This is a competition that in the group stage many important teams are out. It is difficult. We are a good team and we do many, many good things. We continued to do this.

“People expect us to come here and win 4-0, I am sorry we are not able to do this.”

Haaland quiet as Guardiola makes 'nine strikers' joke
Manchester City had 12 shots against RB Leipzig but just three on target

A quiet night for Haaland

City’s hopes of scoring more than the one goal were not helped by a quiet display from Erling Haaland.

The striker, who missed a number of chances at Forest, had just seven touches of the ball in the first half and none of those were in the opposition penalty box.

Haaland, usually so deadly with the few chances he gets, had a real opportunity to add a second for City after the break but dragged his shot well wide.

The Norway international has five goals in five Champions League games for Guardiola’s side this season, and has 32 overall, so of course is allowed the odd quiet game, but this was a particularly anonymous one.

Haaland quiet as Guardiola makes 'nine strikers' joke
Erling Haaland did not touch the ball inside the opposition box in the first half against RB Leipzig

By the end he had had 20 touches of the ball and just one shot on goal.

Mahrez, who scored his 20th goal in the Champions League, defended the work of his team-mate.

“He is a fast, powerful attacker and we know his qualities,” he said.

“It’s not up to him to win, to go get the ball. He’s not there to have 70 touches every game.”

Former Arsenal defending Matthew Upson, who was watching the game for BBC Radio 5 Live, said: “You can’t say he doesn’t do his job when you look at the numbers. I know he didn’t score tonight, but that’s his role, that’s how they play.

“His manager seems happy with it and he seems happy that he’s scoring loads of goals and going to be breaking records in terms of that.”

‘Trust the process’ as Guardiola opts not to turn to his bench

As the game wore on and a winner for City – who were unfortunate not to have been awarded a late penalty for handball – looked increasingly unlikely, it seemed unusual that Guardiola did not turn to his bench.

It is the first time a side has not made any substitutions in a Champions League match since Manchester United against Juventus in October 2018 under Jose Mourinho.

With a number of attacking options available to him including Phil Foden and Julian Alvarez, Guardiola had players who could make a difference, but he didn’t see the need to mix things up.

“I saw the team was good, especially in the middle,” he added. “In the end I decided to continue with what I had.”

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand said on BT Sport: “You want to get on the pitch and play football, especially when you think you are the person who can affect this game, unlock this team.

“But at the same time you have to respect Pep. All of the players, especially in the attacking areas of the pitch, have these moments – so you have to be patient, trust the process.”

‘We will adjust some things to try and go through’

Haaland quiet as Guardiola makes 'nine strikers' joke
Pep Guardiola debriefed his players on the pitch at full time

Given City’s formidable record on home soil – they have won 17 of 19 games at the Etihad Stadium this season – City will rightly feel confident of getting the job done in the return leg on Tuesday, 14 March.

At full-time on Wednesday, Guardiola gathered his players in a huddle to remind them they had plenty to be positive about.

“I said ‘why you have your heads down? Heads up, it was good’,” Guardiola said of that moment.

“Hopefully in three weeks we arrive in a good condition. We can do better. We have to adjust some things and to find a way to go through.”

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.