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regular-article-logo Saturday, 24 February 2024

Champions League: Pep Guardiola praises record player Erling Haaland

Three days earlier, Haaland had become the fastest to net 50 English Premier League goals in a 1-1 draw with Liverpool

Reuters Manchester Published 30.11.23, 08:26 AM
Erling Haaland.

Erling Haaland. File picture

Yet another goals record on Erling Haaland’s bulging CV had Pep Guardiola sounding on Tuesday — tongue-in-cheek — like he was growing tired of answering questions about his prolific scorer.

The 23-year-old became the fastest to score 40 Champions League goals with his strike in the 54th minute that sparked City’s 3-2 comeback victory over RB Leipzig that clinched them top spot in Group G with a round of group games remaining.

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Three days earlier, Haaland had become the fastest to net 50 English Premier League goals in a 1-1 draw with Liverpool.

“Again? I have to tell you again?” Guardiola laughed, when asked for comment. “A thousand million times, I’m really impressed. They won today (Tuesday). Another record. Congratulations. He’s a fantastic player. I tell you many times, we’re pleased.

“We love him, not just for the goals he scores, but for many many other things.”

It took Haaland just 35 matches to reach 40 goals, smashing Ruud van Nistelrooy’s mark of 45 games.

But more importantly to Guardiola, it kick-started City’s comeback after a woefully sluggish first half left them trailing by two goals for the first time in a Champions League game since 2018.

Guardiola said he hoped his players would learn from the roller-coaster game.

“To win in that game not comfortably, to realise, to put in front of the mirror and say ‘We have to do better,’” he said.

City took a different route to Etihad Stadium on Tuesday at Guardiola’s request. The manager wanted his team to see the trinity statue of Colin Bell, Francis Lee and Mike Summerbee that was unveiled earlier in the day.

“I told the club to drop us there and we can walk,” Guardiola said.

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