When German Bundesliga 1’s RB Leipzig held defending Premier League champion Manchester City to a 1-1 draw in the Red Bull Arena during the first leg of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16, many expected the return fixture at the Etihad Stadium to be a tight contest. Little did they know Guardiola’s Citizens brought their A game to the second leg and thrashed their opponent with a massive 7-0 score line, with 22-year-old Norwegian striker Erling Haaland scoring five and surpassing Kylian Mbappé as the youngest footballer to reach 30 goals in the UEFA Champions League.
First-Half Hat-Trick for Haaland
Pep’s squad beat Crystal Palace 1-0 at Selhurst Park Stadium in the Premier League last time around, and the Spaniard made only a single change to his starting line-up against the Eagles in this European cup tie; The visiting manager too altered his squad that easily overcame Borussia Mönchengladbach 3-0 last week with one replacement.
A City corner in the 19th minute led to chaotic moments in the penalty box. The visitors thought they have survived the pressure, but a penalty was eventually given, much to their dismay. Janis Blaswich managed to guess the right way for the spot kick, but Haaland’s strike was too quick for the German goalkeeper. Less than 80 seconds later, Kevin De Bruyne unleashed a powerful shot just outside the penalty box, in which the ball came back off the bar and fell nicely for Haaland to double Manchester City’s advantage.
The Norwegian went on to score his first hat-trick during the dying moments of the opening period, when Rúben Dias’ corner kick header met the post and Haaland was readied to put the ball into the back of the net for the third time. Despite the 22-year-old forward giving the credit to his Portuguese teammate, replay showed that the former was the one who scored City’s third.
Erling Haaland is the youngest player to score 30 UCL goals, breaking Kylian Mbappé’s record 🤯
This rivalry is only getting better 📈 pic.twitter.com/a4lt4teVmn
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 14, 2023
An Even-Better Second 45 Minutes
Guardiola’s goal-craving City side was not contented with their 3-0 margin and extended their scoring spree in the following period. Four minutes after the restart, England international Jack Grealish set up as shot for his captain İlkay Gündoğan, who then rounded Amadou Haidara to score the home team’s fourth. City went fruitful with their set-piece again minutes later, as De Bruyne’s delivery was headed by Bernardo Silva to Haaland. The Norwegian’s initial shot and Manuel Akanji’s follow-up were blocked by the defence, but it cannot prevent Haaland from scoring through City’s third consecutive strike in that passage of play.
Marco Rose’s men were distraught at this point and allowed two more City goals in the remaining of the game. Substitute Riyad Mahrez’s cross at the edge of the penalty box was repelled by Blaswich, but Haaland was there to clear things up by scoring his 33rd UEFA Champions League goal. Belgium midfielder De Bruyne put the icing on the cake for Citizens moments before the final whistle was blown, when his long-ranged effort beat the goalie and found the top right corner.
The goal ended RB Leipzig’s miserable night at the Etihad Stadium, while Manchester City became the second Premier League team to go through to this season’s UEFA Champions League Quarterfinal with a 8-1 aggregate score.
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Haaland Could Have Scored More
If it was not Pep Guardiola’s decision to remove Erling Haaland from the game in the 63rd minute, a double-hat-trick certainly was on the cards for the Norwegian sensation, who now ranks first in the UEFA Champions League top scorer list this season. The 22-year-old said: “It’s all a bit blurry in my head. I don’t remember the goals. I just remember shooting and [not] thinking. I’m so tired after the celebrations. A lot of the goals, I didn’t think. I was just wanting to get the ball in the back of the net. The same with the second goal, with the third goal, with every goal.”
He also added that he wants to help the club to win its inaugural Champions League title, stating that it is the very reason why Manchester City made a move for him to join the English Premier League side last summer. The team in sky blue jersey will meet Burnley at home in the FA Cup Quarterfinal next.
Elsewhere in England, Chelsea extended its winning streak to three games, following a 3-1 victory over Premier League struggler Leicester City last weekend.