Harland Scores Twice as Man City reaches Knockout


Erling Haaland took his Champions League goal tally to 39 in 34 games as Manchester City cruised into the last 16 with two games to spare by barely breaking sweat against Young Boys.

The Norwegian striker shrugged off the ankle injury that forced him off at half-time in Saturday’s hammering of Bournemouth to clinically convert a 23rd-minute penalty after Sandro Lauper had fouled Matheus Nunes.

He then smashed home a second from the edge of the area six minutes after the restart, shortly before Lauper was sent off for a second booking following a foul on Nathan Ake.

In a bizarre exchange, Haaland had already handed his shirt over to Young Boys skipper Mohamed Ali Camara at the break when the Guinean asked for it as the players made their way to the tunnel.

By that point Phil Foden had added a second, finding the net after ollecting Jack Grealish’s superb curling pass to the side of the penalty area and skipping past Ulisses Garcia.

The result sends City into the knockout phase for an impressive 11th consecutive season, and also means they have set a new record of 18 matches unbeaten in Europe for an English club.

The win also extended their run of home victories in all competitions in 2023 to 23 games, one short of the English record, set by Sunderland across 1891 and 1892.

Rivals Liverpool are the next visitors to this stadium, in the Premier League on 25 November. That game will almost certainly be far more competitive than this one was.

Haaland closes in on Champions League record

As for City, they march on, knowing far greater tests lie ahead as they look to emulate their historic Treble success. On this form they will be confident enough of beating anyone.

After an unscheduled early exit at the weekend, Haaland’s selectionin the starting line-up was a surprise, even though Guardiola had said on the eve of the game that he would have no problem picking the Norwegian if the City medical staff declared him fit.

The determination with which Haaland tore into the Young Boys defence from the first whistle was impressive.

Visiting keeper Anthony Racioppi denied the 23-year-old in the opening stages when he tried to turn home a low shot from an acute angle.

There was never a doubt he would score with the penalty, which he drove home with the assuredness of aplayer oozing self-confidence.

Even Guardiola celebrated his impressive second, and while the City manager subbed off his start striker soon afterwards, Haaland now needs just one more goal in any of his next 10 Champions League outings to surpass Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record of scoring 40 in just 45 appearances.

Not that absolutely everything went right for Haaland, though. When skipper Kyle Walker, only playing because Manuel Akanji was injured in the warm-up, sent a low cross to the far post, Haaland couldn’t get his feet in the right position to convert was seemed a relatively simple chance.

Guardiola evidently thought so as he dropped his head in disappointment.

By far the most entertaining aspect of this game, from a Young Boys perspective at least, was the atmosphere created by their supporters.

The fans in the lower two tiers choreographed their entrance just before kick-off, so those in the higher section came in first, all wearing what appeared to be matching yellow ponchos. Then came those in the lower tier, wearing black, to match their team’s colours.

Part way through the opening period, they all turned their back on the game, before taking the ponchos off and twirling them round their heads. Those on the top followed that by throwing them down on those below. -BBC

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