They never offered him more resistance. He has never found it so difficult to score as in this season. Erling Haaland broke through anyway. This Tuesday he propelled Manchester City to the quarterfinals of the Champions League with five goals and already has 39 in 36 games. Only Luiz Adriano at BATE and Messi at Leverkusen had scored five goals in a single match in the new version of the European Cup. Leipzig suffered it, an industrious and orderly team par excellence, resistant for 20 minutes and then surpassed, destroyed at the hands of a rival who played in another dimension.
Ederson Moraes, Rúben Dias, Manuel Akanji, Aké, Rodrigo (Kalvin Phillips, min. 63), Gündogan (Mahrez, min. 55), De Bruyne, John Stones (Sergio Gómez, min. 63), Bernardo Silva, Erling Braut Haaland (Julián Álvarez, min. 63) and Grealish (Foden, min. 54)
Blaswich, Benjamin Henrichs (Lukas Klostermann, min. 79), David Raum, Gvardiol, Willi Orban, Kevin Kampl, Forsberg (André Silva, min. 62), Dominik Szoboszlai (Dani Olmo, min. 72), Laimer, Amadou Haidara ( Mohamed Simakan, min. 62) and Timo Werner (Yussuf Poulsen, min. 62)
goals 1-0 min. 22: Erling Braut Haaland. 2-0 min. 23: Erling Braut Haaland. 3-0 min. 46: Erling Braut Haaland. 4-0 min. 49: Gundogan. 5-0 min. 53: Erling Braut Haaland. 6-0 min. 57: Erling Braut Haaland. 7-0 min. 91: De Bruyne.
Referee Slavko Vincic
Yellow cards Benjamin Henrichs (min. 20), Timo Werner (min. 33), De Bruyne (min. 66) and Manuel Akanji (min. 77)
If the goal that opens the scoring was always the most important, for City it takes on even greater relief. Overwhelmed by rivals who systematically crowd into their area to protect themselves against quick combinations, Guardiola’s team has had to redouble its dynamism this season. Haaland’s presence at the front of the attack has pushed the Premier teams to behave in an exceptional way to protect themselves from the Norwegian. Man has suffered the consequences of life without air or spaces or time to think among the multitude of markers. Never in his career had this 22-year-old striker seen himself so caged and yet he managed to stand out. He was enough a zulo. He had 34 goals in 35 games until this Tuesday. When City made it 1-0, the nine He already added three formidable shots. The advantage opened his horizons.
In the absence of available full-backs, Guardiola lined up four center-backs without the anomaly weighing excessively on the circulation. To loosen his moorings, he placed Bernardo Silva as a false winger on the right. From there the Portuguese is a cyclone. His maneuvers dragged rivals. He showed them the ball, piled them up, and almost always came out on top of the pressure by freeing up space for his teammates in other parts of the pitch. If De Bruyne did not break the shell of a false midfielder and remained immobile when his team needed him near the pivots to play out, Gündogan reached an extraordinary level. It had been a long time since the German midfielder raised the frequency of his interventions and the perimeter of his area of influence so much. The 4-0, after the restart, rewarded his performance after a choral play – all the attackers participated – that he finished off with grace. To get to this point, City had to overcome the roughest of Leipzig’s barricades.
Penalty de Hendricks
Hendricks’ penalty after 20 minutes – the defender opened his arm to prevent Rodri’s header from a corner – changed the scenery. The sanction allowed Haaland to put the first. By then Leipzig, a true pressing machine, brimming with energetic and disciplined players, had parked themselves in midfield waiting for supplies. The initial blow baffled the visitors. After a few minutes his goalkeeper, Blaswich, took a long shot and Ederson, from the other goal, returned the shipment. The ball traversed the field back and forth. Haaland dominated the airspace with arrogance and took down the meteorite. He fell at De Bruyne’s feet. The man exhibits unprecedented beauty. He has a hard time moving his body down the field, but he moves the ball like nobody else. With barely room to set up his leg he hit it with the inside. The kick of a donkey could not have been harder. If he had hit him with the instep he would break the goal. The shot made the stick tremble. Haaland – who does not miss a detail – headed the rebound.
The 2-0 forced Leipzig to leave their field. In this scenario, Gvuardiol and his companions stayed out in the open, like lambs under the snowfall. In the domain of the wolf. Haaland’s golden mane described a continuous zigzag of deceptive, indecipherable or unstoppable movements for his opponents, overcome once by ingenuity, other times by brute force. There is no chapter in the striker’s book that Haaland does not master perfectly. When it was necessary to combine on the balcony of the area, he went in and out of the play like lightning to play a touch; if he had to break into space, he always gained a meter from his pursuers; and once he picked up the scrap of rejections and rebounds – Lewandowski’s specialty – he shone with blinding brilliance.
Early record: 33 goals in 25 Champions League games
He made it 3-0 with a stealthy appearance at the far post, after a corner kick that Dias took down. He made it 5-0 after rising half a length above the center-backs to chip in, and when the keeper patted the ball wide he finished it off with his foot. The 6-0 was another exercise in opportunism. A definition with the small change that remained in his pants. Guardiola ordered his replacement and the Etihad gave him a thunderous ovation.
“If I had played 90 minutes I would have scored more goals, for sure,” Guardiola said after the skirmish. “Messi did five for Bayer in 90, he did five in 60”.
Haaland later acknowledged that he would have liked to score a “double hat-trick”. They asked him about his favorite goal and he answered with irony and frankness. “I don’t know because I don’t remember any of the goals I scored; I put them in without thinking,” he said. His account in the Champions League rises to 33 goals. This is a record for precocity. 25 games have been enough for him to reach the stratosphere. Van Nistelrooy took 38 games to match that figure, Messi 52, and Lewandowski and Mbappé 53.
The party was declared in the north of Manchester when De Bruyne closed it with a beautiful 7-0.
You can follow EL PAÍS Sports on Facebook y Twitterpoint here to receive our weekly newsletter.