Haaland hits five as Man City reach quarter-finals
Erling Haaland rewrote the record books by scoring an incredible five times as Manchester City swept RB Leipzig aside to reach the Champions League quarter-finals.
Haaland becomes the fastest and youngest player to reach 30 goals in Europe’s elite club competition.
He is also the youngest player to score five times in a single Champions League game, joining Argentina great Lionel Messi and Brazil forward Luiz Adriano as the only players to do so.
The 22-year-old is now on 39 goals for the season in all competitions, the first City player to reach that figure in a single campaign. His five hat-tricks are three more than any other player in the big five leagues.
On any normal day, Ilkay Gundogan’s precise low shot into the bottom corner would have merited praise. On this historic night, which matched City’s 7-0 triumph over Schalke in 2019, it was nothing more than a footnote.
On this evidence, no-one, not even Real Madrid, will want to be paired with Pep Guardiola’s side in Friday’s last-eight draw.
Legendary former club captain Vincent Kompany can only hope his old club have got this calibre of performance out of their system when he brings his Burnley side to Etihad Stadium in the FA Cup on Saturday.
Haaland haunts former boss Rose
Leipzig coach Marco Rose was Haaland’s boss at Dortmund last season. Little wonder he reacted with incredulity on the eve of the game when it was pointed out to him that some feel City are a lesser team with the Norwegian in it.
“It could get really, really, really good for him with Pep and Man City,” was Rose’s response.
He would have preferred his words not to be proved quite so perceptive, quite so soon.
Leipzig were given a very early warning about the difficulties that lay ahead when Nathan Ake dropped a long pass over their defence and in the space of half a dozen strides Haaland had sprinted clear of their defence and bore down on goal.
Goalkeeper Janis Blaswich managed to deny Haaland the opener – but it was to be his last success of the night in that personal duel.
Five-star Haaland offers up finishing masterclass
Rose may argue City should not have been awarded the penalty that gave Haaland the chance to open the scoring.
True, Benjamin Henrichs was very close to Rodri – but once VAR intervened it was also obvious the defender had his arms out when the City man headed the ball against his hand.
Haaland kept his cool, buried the penalty and, as the visiting bench were still grumbling at the unfairness of it all, made it 2-0 when he reacted quickest after De Bruyne’s thunderous shot came back off the crossbar and headed into an empty net.
And when Amadou Haidara’s clearance off the line, after Blaswich had turned away Ruben Dias’ header, bounced straight into the advancing Haaland to give him his hat-trick in first-half stoppage time, Leipzig might have been tempted to concede.
But there was more punishment to come for the hapless visitors.
Gundogan’s well-taken strike was followed by Haaland’s fourth, which came when Blaswich saved a Manuel Akanji effort and again it fell just right for the Norwegian.
When he turned home a fifth for the first time in his career, Haaland had effectively scored five times in 35 minutes.
Hs dad Alfie, watching from an executive box high in the stadium, was on his feet leading the applause.
Probably wisely, Guardiola decided there was not much point in Haaland staying on the pitch. He left to a standing ovation from a crowd both appreciative and incredulous at what they had just seen.
City eased off with the job emphatically done before De Bruyne scored with virtually the last kick as Leipzig were condemned to their heaviest European defeat.