Haaland Five

Last night Erling Haaland scored five against RB Leipzig in the UEFA Champions League. It was a phenomenal performance, coming in Manchester City’s 7-0 (8-1 on aggregate) thrashing of the German side, and broke or equalled several records. This included Tommy Johnson’s record of most goals in a season for the club. Haaland’s display against Leipzig took him to 39 goals for the season in all competitions.

Tommy Johnson’s record was established in 1928-29 when he scored 38 in 40 League and cup games. I know some will think ‘ah, but with the Champions League group stages and additional competitions like the League Cup they play more games today’ well… Haaland has achieved the record in only 36 games! That’s less than Johnson took.

Other records tumbled last night too. Haaland had netted 10 for City in the UEFA Champions League by the end of the Leipzig game… that was better than any City player had previously managed in a single campaign in the Champions League and of course the campaign is not over!

Haaland’s five against Leipzig equalled the record for the most goals in a Champions League game. His achievements match Lionel Messi for Barcelona against Bayer Leverkusen in 2012, and Luiz Adriano for Shakhtar Donetsk against BATE Borisov in 2014.

After Leipzig, Haaland has scored 33 goals in 25 Champions League games, becoming the youngest player to cross the 30-goal mark at 22 years and 236 days old, 116 days younger than previous recorder holder Kylian Mbappe.

After the match Haaland told BT Sport: ‘My super strength is scoring goals. A lot of it is being quick in the mind and trying to put it where the goalkeeper is not…

‘I was so tired after my celebrations.’

When asked about the goals afterwards Pep Guardiola commented: ‘Five goals… The problem for this guy is if he doesn’t score two or three goals he will be criticised.’ That just about summed things up well as for weeks prior to this Haaland, despite his incredible record has often been criticised by some in the media. For example, the former Liverpool player Jamie Carragher had been critical in February: ‘I’ve felt this season when he’s scored his goals, I think we’ve only seen 60 per cent of Haaland. You think of that goal he scored on the first game of the season against West Ham, the space in behind, he makes that run.’

‘I know that’s not there that often with the way City play. He’s come from a league and Borussia Dortmund where it’s a counter-attacking league and it’s end to end and you see that blistering pace. You don’t see it. He may have actually picked the wrong club to actually get the best out of him.’

No one connected with Manchester City was feeling like that, especially not as Leipzig were thrashed!

You can read about Tommy Johnson here:

Manchester City v RB Leipzig

It’s RB Leipzig v Manchester City tonight (22 February 2023) in the Champions League. The first time these two sides met competitively came on 15 September 2021 at the Etihad Stadium in the competition’s group stage (Group A). It was Pep Guardiola’s 300th game as manager and City achieved a 6-3 victory which meant that the Blues became the quickest English team to achieve 50 wins in the Champions League. Nice work!

Nathan Ake opened the scoring with a powerful header in the 16th minute, becoming  the tenth different City player to score that season. The lead was increased twelve minutes later when Nordi Mukiele scored what was described by the BBC as a ‘calamitous own goal… The France defender got his angles horribly wrong as his attempted header back to his keeper following Kevin de Bruyne’s delivery ended up in the net.’

Nkunku scored for Leipzig three minutes before half time but City restored their two goal lead by half time with Riyad Mahrez netting a penalty (45+2) awarded after Lukas Klostermann handled.

Leipzig’s Nkunku headed home his second to reduce the deficit six minutes after the restart, but City hit back five minutes later as Jack Grealish scored with a delightful finish on his Champions League debut. Afterwards he commented about the whole experience: ‘I loved it. I’ve been waiting a while. The past few weeks, I couldn’t wait for this game. It’s a great night.’

Talking about the goal Grealish said: ‘The ball came to me and when I’m in that position, running into the area I’d back myself one on one against anyone to have a go and it paid off. I had a few in the first half that were blocked.’

Former Paris St-Germain player Nkunku scored again (73rd minute) to complete his hat-trick, but Joao Cancelo added a stunning 25 yard effort for City two minutes later. The former City player Angelino was dismissed for a second bookable offence four minutes later and then substitute Gabriel Jesus tapped in at the far post to make it six for City with only five minutes of normal time remaining.

The match ended 6-3 but in truth City’s victory was much more convincing than the three conceded goals suggest. Grealish loved the whole experience of his first Champions League match: ‘It was one of those games. It had absolutely everything. In the end we’re delighted to get the win against a good team full of energy and young players… I’m delighted to come away with the three points – and the goal and assist… I went to check the result from the other game [Club Bruges 1-1 PSG] and it shows anything can happen in the Champions League. It’s why it’s such a wonderful competition.’

Leipzig’s hat-trick scorer Christopher Nkunku was not as positive as Grealish however: ‘Every mistake was punished. We made a lot of individual errors. I scored three goals but every time they scored again right away. We needed to show more concentration. We knew the quality Manchester City have.’

For City boss Pep Guardiola there was disappointment that three goals had been conceded and he admitted: Leipzig never give up. They have a special way to attack. They play all or nothing. You never have the feeling it’s over. We scored a few minutes after they scored… and it helped us a lot. They have a young team, so aggressive, so strong. A fantastic team. Leipzig give a good message to football. The quality of the players was better today and that’s why we won.’