Whatever the competition, whoever the opponent, Erling Haaland just cannot stop scoring for Manchester City. Make that 12 goals in seven competitive games in the Norway striker’s first season for City after his double in a 4-0 win over Sevilla in their Champions League opener on Tuesday.
Phil Foden and Ruben Dias scored the other goals for City in its dominant performance at Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán that was again marked by the latest clinic in opportunism by Haaland, who now has 25 goals in 20 games in the Champions League. “He has an incredible sense of goal,” City manager Pep Guardiola said of Haaland. “He scored two and had two or three more (chances) to score.”
Haaland scored a hat trick on his debut in the competition for Salzburg, and was also on the score sheet in his first game in the Champions League for Borussia Dortmund. And there was never any doubt Haaland was going to do the same for City once Kevin De Bruyne was set free in the inside-right channel by Foden’s pass, with the Belgium playmaker sending over a cross that Haaland converted from close range with a flying volley in the 21st minute.
Foden made it 2-0 in the 58th when he twisted and turned inside the penalty area, before sending a shot through the legs of defender Nemanja Gudelj and into the bottom corner. Foden was also involved in the third goal, with his shot saved by goalkeeper Yassine Bounou only for Haaland to be right there to tap in the rebound.
City’s fourth goal, a tap-in by Dias in second-half stoppage time for his first Champions League goal, was met with whistles of derision from Sevilla’s frustrated fans who have seen their team pick up only one point from four games in the Spanish league so far this season.
Erling Haaland vrs Sevilla Highlights..Best Striker in the world _ pic.twitter.com/NMC7OC1m2b
— EH9__ (@GoldenErling) September 6, 2022
Haaland is showing an uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time — usually directly in front of goal — to finish off chances in his ominous early displays for City since an offseason move from Dortmund. He has failed to score in only one of his first seven games for City — somewhat surprisingly against relegation candidate Bournemouth in the Premier League — and already has back-to-back hat tricks to his name.
The De Bruyne-Haaland partnership is clicking, too, with that pair combining for three goals — all scored by Haaland — already this season. “I try to do my job, make the right movements and create as many chances as I can and I know Erling is going to be there,” De Bruyne said. “At the moment, Erling is scoring the goals.”
There were more positives for City, too. Manuel Akanji, a deadline-day signing from Dortmund, enjoyed a comfortable debut at center back alongside Dias while left back Sergio Gomez looked accomplished on his first start since joining from Anderlecht.
Jack Grealish, meanwhile, got some much-needed minutes in his legs after missing the last four games because of injury. If City beats Dortmund next week in a rapid reunion with his former club for Haaland, Guardiola’s team will head into a double-header with Group G outsider FC Copenhagen knowing two wins would all but seal a place in the knockout stage with two games to spare, which could be important in this congested, World Cup-affected season.
“The first away game is very important, you have to set a tone,” De Bruyne said, “and we did that tonight.”
(with PTI inputs)