Bernardo Silva’s penalty demands one question: What was he thinking?

Bernardo Silva horrible penalty - Bernardo is the definition of precision and poise, but his nerve went at the worst moment

All but a small handful of Manchester City players and staff had already retired to the dressing room, dazed and doubtless a little confused about what had just unfolded, by the time Bernardo Silva started his slow trudge off the pitch.

Erling Haaland had taken on the responsibility of chaperoning his crestfallen team-mate and, as the little and large pairing reached the touchline, City’s No. 9 did not take too kindly to the television camera bearing down on the Portuguese, determined to capture his crushing heartbreak.

Momentarily parting company with Bernardo to knock the camera out of the way, like a burly bodyguard might an overzealous fan while protecting a star client, Haaland quickly wrapped an arm back around the midfielder’s shoulder and nursed him down the tunnel.

For a player who had barely put a foot wrong in a game his team dominated, a player who makes the right decision time and time again, a player who is the very definition of precision and poise, the sight of Bernardo making such a hash of his penalty almost felt like a trick of the imagination.

In the expensive seats in front of the press box, the double taking City fans looked around at each other to check they had indeed seen the same thing and, when the reality dawned, the first thought was: what was he thinking? Andriy Lunin, the Real goalkeeper, certainly could not believe his luck.

Bernardo Silva penalty missBernardo Silva penalty miss

The City midfielder cannot bear to look after his penalty miss, one that he won’t want to watch a replay of – Getty Images/Stu Forster

After Julian Alvarez had scored the opening penalty before Luka Modric missed Real Madrid’s first spot-kick, the momentum was with City but it was snatched away in the moment Bernardo opted to scoop the ball straight into the arms of a grateful Lunin and, in truth, the European champions never really recovered from the shock of it all.

What was he thinking? Clarity of thought is one of Bernardo’s great traits, but his penalty resembled the work of a man caught in two minds. It was neither a well-concealed panenka nor a rifled shot into the centre roof of the net, just a tame, almost apologetic stroke of the left boot, like a dad lobbing a gentle effort the way of a young son or daughter.

If only he had demonstrated the conviction later shown by City’s goalkeeper, Ederson, who kept his team’s prayers alive with a firmly hit penalty low into the bottom corner only for those hopes of a second successive Champions League crown to be extinguished by the right boot of Antonio Rudiger.

It was a strange penalty shoot-out. On both sides, most of the usual takers were either unavailable to their manager, or other factors were at play, but it was certainly unusual to see the likes of Mateo Kovacic (who missed) and Nacho (who scored) stepping up when players such as City’s Rodri, who recently scored two penalties for Spain against Brazil, and Real’s Federico Valverde sat it out.

How Pep Guardiola would have wanted to be able to call upon Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne. Both, along with Manuel Akanji, had asked to come off, unable to give any more. In the case of De Bruyne and Akanji, that was understandable – they had run themselves into the ground deep into extra time – but Haaland?

This was another of those recent big games in which the Norway striker had gone missing. It was not until the 37th minute that he completed a pass, one of only five successful passes he made on the night, and of his 21 touches none yielded a goal his team so desperately craved. He did hit the crossbar with a header but that was about as good it got.

By the end, all he could do was watch on, powerlessly, as the shoot-out quickly got away from City and there was nothing left to do but to console the inconsolable Bernardo.

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