Guardiola: Haaland 'a gift' for Man City after historic five-goal haul against Leipzig

Norwegian striker becomes fastest and youngest player to pass 30 Champions League goals, scoring 32 in just 25 appearances as City ease into quarter-finals

Erling Haaland shakes hands with Pep Guardiola after being substituted off during Manchester City's Champions League victory against RB Leipzig. AFP
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said Erling Haaland is a "gift to all of us" after the Norwegian made history with five goals against RB Leipzig to fire his team into the Champions League quarter-finals.

Haaland became the fastest and youngest player to reach 30 Champions League goals on Tuesday night as City destroyed Leipzig 7-0 at Etihad Stadium, his 32 coming in just 25 appearances. The 22-year-old striker now has 39 goals for the season – the most by a City player in a single campaign – while his five hat-tricks are more than any other player in Europe's big five leagues.

“Five goals, what can I say? I said many times, he’s a joyful guy. His mood in the locker room is always happiness," Guardiola said. “He is a gift to all of us. He is a huge competitor, his mentality is there. He scored five goals which is not easy.”

Haaland's arrival from Borussia Dortmund last summer has seen City adjust their style of play, having won the Premier League title last season without a recognised centre-forward.

While his presence has reaped the obvious reward of a record-breaking number of goals, there has still been some criticism levelled at City when Haaland is not centrally involved in games, with claims the team becomes easier to defend against when the Norwegian is affectively isolated.

Not so against Leipzig as Haaland was in the thick of the attacking action for City. In addition to his five goals, Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin de Bruyne, with the last kick of the game, found the target to ensure a complete demolition of Leipzig.

“Today he scored five goals and I think he made 30-35 ball contacts and this is what we are looking for,” Guardiola said. “I had the feeling when you are involved in the game offensively, defensively, when the ball comes to score a goal, you are more clever, more precise, you are in the game.

Man City v RB Leipzig player ratings

“It’s difficult to score – he can do it though – when you don't touch the ball for 40 or 50 minutes. Sometimes it's his fault, sometimes he doesn’t move. I said against [Crystal] Palace (where City won 1-0 with a Haaland penalty), you didn’t play well today. But other days, it's our fault.

“In Leipzig [where City drew the first leg 1-1], we could not find him. We did not find him in the second half. We are working a little bit because we try to make the process sometimes quicker."

Leipzig manager Marco Rose admitted City were simply too good on the night.

"That was an incredible performance," he said. "They didn't allow us to control the game at all, at no stage of the game. The bottom line is disappointing for us but they really deserved it."

Updated: March 15, 2023, 4:34 AM