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Thursday May 30, 2024

Haaland hits five to ease Man City into CL quarters

By AFP
March 16, 2023

MANCHESTER: Erling Haaland equalled a Champions League record with a five-goal haul to ease Manchester City into the quarter-finals at RB Leipzig’s expense as a 7-0 win for the English champions secured an 8-1 aggregate victory on Tuesday.

Haaland also set a new club record for goals in a season of 39 in the process as Pep Guardiola’s men reached the last eight for the sixth consecutive season.

City are yet to go all the way in the Champions League, but they have never had a striker of Haaland’s quality to make the difference in the latter stages before.

At just 22 he now has 33 goals in 25 appearances in Europe’s premier club competition.

The weather was more akin to Haaland’s homeland on a snowy night in Manchester, but City did not freeze under the pressure and kept their Champions League dreams alive.

The tie was delicately balanced after a 1-1 draw in eastern Germany three weeks ago, but a Leipzig side depleted by injury never looked like a match for their star-studded opponents.

Guardiola had kept Kevin De Bruyne in reserve for City’s 1-0 win at Crystal Palace in the Premier League at the weekend and on his return to the starting line-up, the Belgian was back to his best.

Ilkay Gundogan should have opened the scoring after just three minutes from De Bruyne’s inviting cross.

Haaland’s searing pace then created a chance out of nothing from Nathan Ake’s long ball, but Janis Blaswich raced out from his goal to block.

Leipzig did have cause for complaint over two controversial calls that had a massive impact on the game before half-time.

Firstly, VAR spotted a handball against Benjamin Henrichs that led to a penalty that neither the City players nor the crowd even noticed.

Haaland fired low to Blaswich’s left to maintain his perfect record from the spot for City with his sixth penalty of the season.

Two minutes later it was 2-0 as Haaland teed up De Bruyne, who smashed a shot against the bar, and then showed his speed and strength to power home a header from the rebound.

Leipzig could have been gifted a route back into the tie when Ederson sprinted from his goal to wipe out Konrad Laimer.

But rather than send the Brazilian goalkeeper off, Slovenian referee Slavko Vincic did not even award a free-kick.

Any doubt over the outcome was ended with the final action of the first half.

Ruben Dias rose highest to head Jack Grealish’s corner onto the post and Amadou Haidara’s attempted clearance ricocheted off Haaland into the net.

Gundogan’s classy finish into the far corner four minutes into the second half rubbed more salt into Leipzig’s wounds before Haaland started rewriting the record books.

Firstly, he hammered home at the second attempt after Blaswich parried his initial header to match Tommy Johnson’s record of 38 goals for City in the 1928-29 season.

Haaland set a new mark with still three months of the campaign to go when he snaffled up another rebound after Blaswich saved from Manuel Akanji.