Erling Haaland’s ankle injury had thrown his participation in Manchester City’s clash with Young Boys into uncertainty just three days ago. However, on Tuesday, he delivered a stellar performance, netting two goals in City’s 3-0 Champions League victory, edging closer to yet another remarkable record.
In the wake of this impressive display, Haaland now boasts 39 Champions League goals from just 34 appearances, positioning him to shatter the record for the fewest appearances needed to reach 40 goals, currently held by Ruud van Nistelrooy, who achieved the feat in 45 games.
Despite reigning as Europe’s top scorer last season, Haaland recently conceded the Ballon d’Or award to Lionel Messi. When asked about Haaland’s prospects of clinching the prestigious trophy next year, City manager Pep Guardiola responded, saying, “If he with his mates can win trophies, there will be a chance to win it. If we don’t, he won’t win it.”
City, as defending champions, secured a spot in the last 16 with two group games to spare.
Haaland’s first goal was converted from a penalty, while Guardiola characterised his second strike—a left-footed rocket from 20 meters—as “amazing.” Guardiola remarked, “Normally Erling scores goals in the six-yard box or 18-yard box; he has this talent, not the first time he has done it. Yeah, that was a fantastic goal.”
Guardiola revealed that Haaland was cleared to play following a successful training session. “I didn’t speak with him; we saw in the training session how he moved and how happy he was,” Guardiola explained. “He feels good, okay. So he plays, the job was almost done, take a rest for next Sunday.”
City’s achievement of securing a place in the last 16 with two group matches remaining was met with a sense of accomplishment, but Guardiola emphasised the importance of finishing atop the group to guarantee a home game in the second leg of the last-16 stage. “The job isn’t done; we have to finish first,” Guardiola stated. “We have a job to do, the first step to qualify is done. Really impressed, two fantastic goals.”
However, there was a sombre note in Guardiola’s post-match remarks as he discussed the potentially lengthy injury layoff for John Stones. Stones had recently returned from a hip injury but was substituted at halftime during Tuesday’s game. Guardiola lamented, “It’s muscular; he will be out for a while. A pity for him, an incredible professional. A pity and bad news for us.”