Pro raider Erling Haaland is heading for a 50-goal season if Man City beat Leipzig

Some records last forever. Some only last 94 years. Since Tommy Johnson scored 38 goals in 1928/29, no one in a Manchester City shirt had matched him. Until Erling Haaland stormed past him in an exceptional goalscoring performance after up to 19 games and maybe almost three months into his remaining season. The Champions League is said to be the sport’s toughest competition but Haaland had five goals within an hour of a knockout draw against the club, who were semi-finalists two seasons ago.

Records are tumbling, and not just City’s best clubs, set before the Wall Street Crash and lasting half a century after Johnson’s death. The most by a City player in a Champions League campaign was Riyad Mahrez’s seven last year. Haaland drove past it and became the top scorer in the competition that season. He became the fastest player to score 30 goals in the Champions League in just 25 games and now has 33 goals in total. After four hat-tricks in his brief City career, he scored his fifth on Tuesday night. Only Luiz Adriano and Lionel Messi had managed that in a Champions League game before and had Pep Guardiola not removed him in the last half hour the competition’s first double hat-trick seemed in sight.

Leipzig was so poor, so permeable. They had the World Cup standout centre-back in Josko Gvardiol but he could be forgiven for wanting superior teammates as they were blown to bits. Leipzig had conceded six goals at the Etihad Stadium last season but at least Christopher Nkunku scored a hat-trick for them on the day. Aside from the injured Nkunku, they had no such threat and conceded seven. That was an embarrassment for a team that beat Real Madrid in the group stage.

For City, meanwhile, it was the most emphatic way to secure a place in the quarter-finals for the sixth straight season. Long before Kevin de Bruyne rolled in the seventh shot, a stunning long-range shot with the final kick of the game, their supporters had been in chorus about being “the best team in the world”. The final verdict could come in June in Istanbul; For now, however, they may have to settle for being a side most would hope to avoid in Friday’s draw.

As Haaland left to a standing ovation, it felt incongruous to think he had only scored three goals in his previous nine games. He had achieved that by half-time. Raging and dominant, this was his best city performance. He was too fast, too big, too relentless and too accurate for Leipzig. With 11 goals against them they are officially his favorite opponent and certainly Marco Rose can attest that forewarned is not forewarned. The Leipzig coach was in charge of Dortmund last season when Haaland scored 29 goals. The Norwegian’s goal hunger should be even greater. He decided that tie with two in as many minutes and then increased his tally to five in 35.

If Leipzig deserves sympathy in their lack of luck, it’s because a few crucial decisions were made against them. When the score was 2-0, Ederson came out of his penalty area and fouled Konrad Laimer, who went unpunished. Previously, the impasse had been broken when City received the kind of penalty that no one had appealed but which may be the product of technology; There was confusion when referee Slavko Vincic was sent to the pitchside monitor and some over his eventual decision. Rodri had headed the ball into Benjamin Henrichs’ arm in a penalty shootout. Haaland paid little attention to the justification and took the penalty.

Erling Haaland converts penalty against RB Leipzig


If Leipzig was shaken, so was their crossbar for Haaland’s second. After the Norwegian headed the ball back to him, De Bruyne slammed a wild smash into the woodwork from 20 yards out. The rebound fell on the advancing Haaland to head him in. He had started and finished the move, forcing goalkeeper Janis Blaswich into a hasty clearance by closing it.

His third came happily. Ruben Dias hit Jack Grealish’s corner with a header that hit the post and rolled over the line. When Amadou Haidara tried to clarify, he instead cannoned the ball in Haaland and thus into the net.

His fourth was hooked on the second try after Blaswich saved his first header from another corner. His fifth was a rebound after unconvincing goalkeeper Manuel Akanji’s shot was blocked with a limp save. That he could have had two more before half-time was a sign of how compelling he was.

The other goal came from a German. Even then, Leipzig could not be happy about that. Ilkay Gundogan had been elusive as he threw in an early half-volley and pulled a save from Blaswich before drilling a low shot from the edge of the box. Support went to Grealish but even then Haaland had played his part, finding the £100m man and playing a part in the build-up. Guardiola enjoys that perhaps more than each of his five goals. The professional predator in Haaland is less likely to do that. And with 39 to his name, he can envision a 50-goal season. Pro raider Erling Haaland is heading for a 50-goal season if Man City beat Leipzig

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