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What Rudiger did to provoke Kovacic’s penalty miss



What Rudiger did to provoke Kovacic's penalty miss

In a tense Champions League quarter-final showdown between Manchester City and Real Madrid, fans were quick to notice the strategic actions of Antonio Rudiger just before Mateo Kovacic’s critical penalty miss.

After a grueling 1-1 draw in 120 minutes of play, the match extended to a penalty shootout, ultimately seeing Real Madrid emerge victorious with a 4-3 win on spot-kicks.

The drama unfolded as veteran Luka Modric missed his penalty, only for both Bernardo Silva and Kovacic to be denied by Real Madrid’s goalkeeper, Andriy Lunin.

The fate of the game then rested on Rudiger’s shoulders, as his successful penalty secured Real Madrid a spot in the semi-finals against Bayern Munich.

However, Rudiger’s impact extended beyond his crucial spot-kick.

Observant fans noted his actions just before Kovacic’s penalty attempt. Positioned at the halfway line, the German international was seen pointing to the left, seemingly indicating to Lunin the direction in which Kovacic was likely to shoot.

Although Kovacic’s shot wasn’t placed right in the corner, Lunin anticipated correctly and made a decisive save at a pivotal moment in the shootout. Whether Lunin saw the gesture from Rudiger from his distant position remains unclear.

Furthermore, Kepa Arrizabalaga, another former Chelsea player now with Real Madrid, played a significant role behind the scenes.

According to assistant manager Davide Ancelotti, Kepa assisted in the ordering of penalties and was observed conversing with Lunin before the shootout commenced.

Some fans speculated that Kepa’s prior experience, particularly from the 2019 Carabao Cup final shootout where Silva successfully aimed down the middle against him, might have influenced his advice to Lunin to remain centrally positioned.

In response to queries about his tactical decisions, Lunin explained,

“I needed to take a risk with one of the kicks, we picked one (to stay in the middle) and thank goodness it worked out in our favor.”

The calculated gesture from Rudiger and Kepa’s strategic input added layers of intrigue to the dramatic Champions League encounter.