Guardiola defends USMNT’s Steffen after mistake

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola defended backup goalkeeper Zack Steffen, saying he should keep his place despite an error that led to Saturday’s 3-2 defeat by Liverpool in the FA Cup semifinal.

After Ibrahima Konate’s header put Liverpool in the lead, the mistake from United States international Steffen gave the Reds a second goal in the 17th minute.

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“It was an accident, but we need him to try because that’s how we play our football,” Guardiola told reporters after the game.

“He deserves to play and after that he had a good game,” Guardiola said. “He made good saves and is an exceptional keeper.”

Steffen took too long when receiving a back pass from City defender John Stones. Liverpool forward Sadio Mane slid in to tackle the keeper and the ball flew into the net.

“We use our keeper to move our opponents into different situations. I’m pretty sure Zack didn’t want to do it,” Guardiola said. “Sometimes the strikers miss in front of the keeper, other times the keeper makes a mistake.”

Steffen was one of the seven changes Guardiola made from the team that started in their Champions League game in midweek, with the City boss opting to rest several of the team starters including first choice keeper Ederson.

City are top of the Premier League on 74 points, one point ahead of Liverpool, with seven matches left. They host Brighton & Hove Albion in the league on Wednesday.

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