MILAN – Manchester City defender Kyle Walker had to fill in as an emergency goalkeeper to help preserve a 1-1 draw at Atalanta on Wednesday, as the Italian side earned its first point in the Champions League.
Walker had to come off the bench and don the gloves after substitute goalkeeper Claudio Bravo was sent off for a last-man foul on Josip Ilicic in the 81st minute.
The defender’s first action was to save the resulting free kick — although not without spilling it onto the ground before scooping up the ball.
“I try and sometimes (wind up) the other ‘keepers in training, telling them to catch it,” Walker said. “But as I found tonight, sometimes you do have to take two touches.”
He didn’t have much more to do, though, as City managed to see out the final minutes.
The Italian side looked headed for a fourth straight loss in Group C when Raheem Sterling — who scored a hat trick in Man City’s 5-1 win in the reverse fixture — put the Premier League champion in front in the seventh minute.
However, Gabriel Jesus dragged a penalty wide three minutes before halftime and Mario Pasalic leveled for Atalanta four minutes into the second half.
Atalanta dominated the second period and its winning chances increased when Ilicic burst through clear on goal and was brought down by Bravo, who had come rushing out of the area.
With Bravo having come on as a halftime replacement for the injured Ederson, Pep Guardiola had to put Walker in goal.
Sterling posted a photo on Twitter of him and Walker — dressed in Bravo’s goalkeeping jersey — laughing on the pitch after the game, but added: “I wouldn’t trust you holding my baby tho.”
City remained top of Group C and five points clear after Shakhtar Donetsk scored two late goals to draw 3-3 at Dinamo Zagreb.
“We have to take our hats off to Atalanta. You know as well as I do what a good side they are,” Guardiola said. “You can ask all Italian teams just how hard it is to face Atalanta. To take four points off them is a big success for us, especially with the injuries we’ve faced. We played well in the first half then dug deep in the second.”
Atalanta stayed bottom of the group, four points below Dinamo Zagreb and Shakhtar with matches against both still to play.
“At the end maybe we could have got more, especially after they had a player sent off, but we got a point and we’re still in it,” Pasalic said. “We’re looking ahead. If we play the next two matches like we played the second half today we can go good things. It’s down to us.”
City would have secured a spot in the knockout round with a win and took an early lead with a delightful move. Bernardo Silva played in a ball from the left and Jesus backheeled it into the path of Sterling, who slotted into the bottom corner.
Real Madrid rips Galatasaray
In Madrid, it took less than 15 minutes for Real Madrid to erase fears of another setback at home as it put its Champions League campaign back on track.
With three goals in the first 14 minutes, Madrid cruised to a 6-0 win over Galatasaray on Wednesday, moving closer to the knockout stages and ending the Turkish team’s chances of advancing in the European competition.
Brazilian teenager Rodrygo had a dream Champions League debut at home, scoring the quickest brace in tournament history and his first hat trick with Madrid.
Karim Benzema got a double to reach 50 Champions League goals with the Spanish club, surpassing Alfredo Di Stefano’s tally.
Rodrygo scored twice in the opening seven minutes, and Sergio Ramos added the third from a penalty in the 14th to put Madrid on its way to a comfortable home victory. Benzema added the fourth just before halftime and scored again late in the second half, while Rodrygo sealed his hat trick in stoppage time.
“We can be happy with our performance today,” Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. “Not only because of the six goals, but also because we kept a clean sheet. We played a complete match. We got the best version of all of our players.”
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5