‘The Machine’ Erling Haaland scores twice as Pep Guardiola takes another step towards history
Erling Haaland is so good, he now has players asking for his shirt at half-time.
The Norwegian scored twice as Manchester City beat Young Boys 3-0 to become the first team to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages – alongside Leipzig – but it was the unexpected shirt swap that got everyone talking.
With City already leading Young Boys 2-0 at half-time, visiting captain Mohamed Ali Kamara asked Haaland for his shirt as they left the pitch. The striker duly obliged, although he appeared to say ‘you can’t do that’ as he did so.
“100% not having that. That’s embarrassing,” was former Scotland striker Allie McCoist’s immediate reaction on TNT Sports, while there was disbelief on social media over Kamara’s actions.
But, when Haaland fired in a sensational second after the break from 20 yards, McCoist added: “To be fair, I’ll ask for his shirt next. He’s a machine.”
Young Boys’ coach Rafael Wick said he was “surprised” and would have “a few words” with his team captain.
Haaland’s amazing goalscoring exploits continue.
He now has 39 goals in 34 Champions League matches.
Still just 23 years old and in only his fifth season in the competition, the Norwegian striker already sits 20th in the competition’s all-time top scorers list.
His tally since joining City has been quite prolific. He has scored 67 goals in 70 appearances since signing from Borussia Dortmund last summer – breaking a host of records along the way.
After watching Haaland score just his third goal from outside the penalty area for City, former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand told TNT: “It’s scary.
“If he starts adding scoring from distance to his game, he will become impossible to mark.”
‘The Complete Team’ – Can anyone stop Manchester City?
No English team has ever retained the Champions League trophy, while Nottingham Forest were the last team from the country to successfully defend the European Cup in 1980. The formidable Blues side will have their sights set on making more history.
The comfortable win saw last year’s treble winners set a new European record unbeaten run for an English team of 18 matches, the fifth-longest run for any team since the Champions League era began in 1992.
The last time they failed to score in a Champions League match was more than a year ago, on October 25, 2022, when they drew 0-0 against Borussia Dortmund in Germany.
Retaining Europe’s premier club cup is no easy task, as only Real Madrid has done so in the Champions League era. Only eight clubs defended their title in Europe’s elite competition.
McCoist believes Guardiola’s men could become second since 1992.
“I thought they would miss (Riyad) Mahrez. I thought they would miss (Ilkay) Gundogan, but they look as strong as ever,” he said.
“You wouldn’t bet on City doing it. They’re a great team, great players and they have a great coach. It’s too easy for them sometimes.”
Manchester City have made the Etihad Stadium a fortress during 2023. They have won every home game during the calendar year, taking the tally to 23 matches in all competitions.
Sunderland hold the English record with 24 consecutive home wins, dating back to 1891 and 1892. They will next face Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium.
“The word that has defined this group of players for many years is consistency,” Guardiola said. “I know how competitions are improving all the time.
“We have high standards, that’s why we’re still in the Premier League and qualified from the Champions League. People say yes, the group stage, it’s easy, but you have to do it.
“In life, you have to do it when people expect you to do it. There are two matches left. Leipzig is the strongest competitor in this group and we have to try to finish it off bigger. It is important in the round of 16 that we have the weapon for the second match at home and not away.” “
Ferdinand added: “Manchester City’s pursuit of greatness is all about mentality now. They will set new goals and will not accept that they have won titles. It can be difficult and mentally exhausting. They will have a coach who will set the goals.” Standards.
“Real Madrid has that relationship with this tournament. Bayern’s attacking line can cause problems for anyone. But I don’t see anyone as complete as Man City. This is the only team I see as a complete team.”