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Monday April 22, 2024

Erling Haaland lifts Manchester City to 2nd place on Premier League table

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola defended the striker Erling Haaland who was said to be coping with some issues

By Web Desk
February 21, 2024
Erling Haaland tucks his shot away for the match-winning goal against Brentford. — AFP
Erling Haaland tucks his shot away for the match-winning goal against Brentford. — AFP

Erling Haaland secured a crucial 1-0 victory for Manchester City over Brentford in a thrilling Tuesday night clash. 

The win catapults City into second place on the Premier League table, just a single point adrift of frontrunners Liverpool.

The Norwegian striker, who faced criticism for a frustrating performance against Chelsea, rebounded emphatically by notching his 17th Premier League goal of the season. 

Breaking the deadlock in the 71st minute, Erling Haaland sprinted onto a sublime through ball from Julian Alvarez, leaving Brentford defenders trailing, before calmly slotting the ball past the slipping Kristoffer Ajer and beating keeper Mark Flekken.

Erling Haaland's resurgence comes after a challenging period, both on and off the field.

Pep Guardiola's strategic decisions, including keeping playmaker Kevin De Bruyne on the bench due to hamstring concerns, reflected the manager's calculated approach in navigating the intense title race.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola defended the striker, saying, "Top strikers score a lot of goals, don't criticise, he will shut your mouth. Sooner or later he is there." Guardiola revealed Erling Haaland had endured personal hardships, including the loss of his grandmother and a two-month absence due to a foot injury.

Despite Manchester City's dominance with 25 shots, 11 on target, and Brentford's keeper Flekken producing a commendable performance, it was Haaland's solitary goal that proved decisive. City's defence, led by Manuel Akanji, successfully navigated Brentford's challenges, with Akanji acknowledging the importance of a counter-attacking strategy against the resilient opposition.

He noted, "After the weekend, we had to show a reaction, and I feel we did that. Now we have to improve game by game."

Frank acknowledged City's quality but underscored the significance of margins in football, stating, "City are good enough with their quality; they don't need the margins going their way. I think we needed it more than them."

Brentford, sitting five points above the relegation zone in 14th place, had their moments, with a missed opportunity by Frank Onyeka early in the game. Brentford manager Thomas Frank lamented the misstep that led to Haaland's goal, emphasising the fine margins in football.

City's victory, coupled with their unbeaten streak in the last 10 Premier League matches, sets the stage for a captivating title race with Liverpool and Arsenal.