Erling Haaland continues to be the problem at Manchester City as Pep Guardiola’s side stumbled into the Champions League quarter-finals against Leipzig.
Haaland only managed to score five goals in a 7-0 destruction of Leipzig, with Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin de Bruyne ruining the illusion somewhat by contributing fine strikes of their own.
A 1-1 draw in the first leg suggested Manchester City had a difficult task in their last-16 tie against Leipzig but the Bundesliga’s third-placed side were obliterated over the course of 90 ruthless minutes.
Haaland opened the scoring with a 22nd-minute penalty, harshly awarded for handball against Benjamin Henrichs.
The Norwegian doubled the lead almost immediately by nodding in on the rebound after a rejuvenated De Bruyne‘s effort thundered off the crossbar.
The hat-trick was complete in stoppage time when Haaland made sure Ruben Dias’ header from a corner crossed the line after hitting the post.
Gundogan completed a fine team move – in which Haaland was involved – to make it 4-0 early in the second half, before Manchester City properly flexed their muscles.
Haaland added a fourth and fifth to his own personal tally with similarly scrappy but clinical goals, twice capitalising on haphazard defending by punishing poor clearances.
His already ludicrous statistics were taken to a whole new level on a truly preposterous evening.
Erling Haaland has now scored 1.9% of all Man City goals in PL & CL history
— Duncan Alexander (@oilysailor) March 14, 2023
De Bruyne also had a phenomenal game, which the Belgian capped off by curling a sublime effort into the top left corner after great work from Riyad Mahrez in second-half stoppage-time.
Leipzig manager Marco Rose called it, praising former Salzburg striker Haaland ahead of the game.
“Erling Haaland is one of the top number nines in the world,” he said in his pre-match press conference.
“Of course, City played last year more with the false nine but, for me, they’re much more difficult to play now because you don’t know.
“They play deep, or they play short, they have more possibilities. They can use Erling as a wall player or send him in deep spaces.
“For me they’re more complete now. If he gets [more] used to what Pep wants, it could get really good for Pep and Manchester City.
It did. It really did. And Manchester City reached the Champions League quarter-finals for the sixth consecutive season in the process.
Rose had also praised “one of the best coaches in the world” in Guardiola.
“It’s not just about results in football as a coach, it’s about performances, improving players and a club. I think that’s what he’s always done and is doing here,” Rose added.
“In the end, I really wish him to win the competition, but maybe not this year!”
The over-thinking in the final will be incredibly fun, to be fair.