“I replaced him so he wouldn’t beat Messi”

Manchester City won 6-0 against Burnley this Saturday in the FA Cup quarter-finals, in a match where Erling Haaland scored a hat-trick. At the end of the match Pep Guardiola was amused that he had replaced the Norwegian again early in the game, hinting at the Champions League record that eluded him against Leipzig.

Pep Guardiola was a lodger. The Manchester City coach saw his team easily win 6-0 against Burnley this Saturday in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. A match where Erling Haaland again distinguished himself, scoring a hat-trick before being replaced in the 63rd minute.

A change that amused Pep Guardiola, allowing himself to room his striker in the mixed zone: “8 goals in four days, I played eleven years in Barcelona and I scored eleven goals. He is incredible. Yeah I have him kicked out three goals lest he break Messi’s FA Cup record.”

In reference to the controversy of the quintuplet against Leipzig

The Sky Blues coach was referring to the minor controversy that followed Haaland’s Champions League quintuple against Leipzig last Tuesday. Pep Guardiola had been criticized for replacing the Norwegian before he netted what would have been a historic sixth goal to protect Lionel Messi’s record.

The Argentinian had achieved such a festival in a knockout match, against Bayer Leverkusen in March 2012 (7-1), and the two men are therefore the only ones to share this record of goals in a knockout match in Champions League. Asked about it after the game, the City coach didn’t totally deny thinking about his former Barcelona protege’s record: “I know Leo scored five goals, I remember it perfectly. It’s amazing Erling did it in 60 minutes, Leo didn’t. But he’s very young and that must be another reason to break Leo’s record.”

Enough to create a little frustration for the 22-year-old striker, who is now at 33 goals in 25 appearances in the Champions League. A rate much higher than that of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi or Kylian Mbappé at the same age. Erling Haaland had also let his coach know when he left: “I told him that I would have liked to score a double hat-trick.”

Relaunched in the post-match press conference, Guardiola had developed his thoughts: “His form is a gift for all of us, he is a great competitor. He scored five goals by touching the ball 30 or 35 times. He has scored five goals in 60 minutes, he didn’t need more. Who knows what would have happened if he had played all 90 minutes? He’s an incredible guy, with an incredible mentality (…) If he had reached this record at 22, he would have been bored in the future!”

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