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Man City Runs Through Leipzig in UCL RO 16
Man City Runs
It was the time when the battered players of RB Leipzig could finally breathe. A vivid, red No. 9 was listed on the Manchester City replacements’ board with 62 minutes remaining in the game. The struggle was finished for the German club. Erling Haaland was exiting the stage.
A rambunctious round of applause, with Pep Guardiola joining in from the sidelines, erupted as City’s wrecking ball of a centre-forward left the field with a wide smile on his lips. Earlier in his career, Haaland had four hat tricks while wearing the colours of City, breaking numerous records. Nevertheless, five in one game? and in the round of 16 of the Champions League?
Everyone agreed that this was very unique. As Haaland scored his fifth and City’s sixth goals, he set a new club record for goals in a season with 39, surpassing Tommy Johnson’s 38 from 1928–1929. His father, Alfie, erupted in jubilation in the grandstand as he asked the crowd to count his fingers and thumb.
This demonstration of dominating force, aggressive running, and lethal shooting sent a message throughout Europe. With City, Guardiola has been moving closer to the coveted goal of winning the Champions League, reaching two finals and a semi-final in the previous two seasons. With Haaland now on board, the opportunities are tantalising, especially since the last stretch of the competition appears to be so open.
Leipzig in UCL RO 16
After Kevin De Bruyne curled in a game-winning goal in stoppage time, City tied their record victory in it (7-0 vs Schalke from 2019). De Bruyne performed admirably after being reinstated to the starting lineup, but this was a moment in that only one player could have dominated.
It was Haaland’s 36th appearance for City, and the team will still play a minimum of 14 games across all competitions and a maximum of 19 as they pursue success in the Premier League, the FA Cup, and this competition—the one they really want—before the season is over. Nobody knows how his numbers will appear after everything is said and done.
Haaland is endearing in part for the fact that it is clear that he is enjoying himself. This can be seen in his smiles when he is close to scoring and even in his goal celebrations. Also, it was clear when he remained on the sidelines after leaving the game and, obviously, when he walked away with the game ball. He almost brought two home.
But the motivation behind everything, the drive to pursue causes that seem lost, to become involved and make things happen, is remorselessness. When the opportunity arises, it typically only means one thing. Moreover, if it doesn’t, it probably will the following time.
Haaland’s second goal served as the ideal showcase for his tenacity, agility, and predatory nature. Janis Blaswich, the goalkeeper for Leipzig, was forced to rush a clearance as a result of his pressure, and when Manuel Akanji volleyed back from halfway, Haaland twisted to point back to De Bruyne. Following a run through traffic and a fierce drive that rebounded off the crossbar, what happened next was all about the simplicity of De Bruyne’s technique. Haaland ate the rebound whole.
Guardiola’s Champions League history at City can frequently feel like it flashes before everyone’s eyes on these types of nights, emphasising the knock-out round heartbreak. It had already done so literally prior to kickoff, as a big screen montage showed him sobbing after losses and comforting hurt players.