Champions League: Guardiola lauds Erling Haaland after stunning five-goal haul

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has expressed his gratitude for having Erling Haaland in his side, calling the forward a “gift” following his five-goal showing in the Champions League.

City’s No.9 took over their round of 16 second-leg clash with Bundesliga side RB Leipzig. Haaland scored a first-half hat-trick before adding a pair of goals after the interval for good measure.

Meanwhile, Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin de Bruyne chipped in a goal each as Man City won 7-0 on the night. They are thus through to the last eight thanks to a superlative, 8-1 aggregate victory.

Speaking after the game, Guardiola waxed lyrical about his star striker’s performance.

“Five goals, what can I say?” said the Man City boss, via the club website. “I said many times, he is a joyful guy. His mood in the locker room is always happiness.

“Haaland is a gift to all of us. He’s a huge competitor, his mentality is there. He scored five goals which is definitely not easy.”

Guardiola put his striker’s goal total from Tuesday night’s game down to his increased presence in the match.

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

“It’s difficult to score – he can do it, though – when you don’t touch the ball for 40-50 minutes. Sometimes it’s his fault, sometimes he doesn’t move. But other days, it’s our fault.”

Despite netting five, Erling Haaland seemed eager to score even more on Tuesday night.

Haaland wanted the double hat-trick in Leipzig demolition

Joining BT Sport post-match, the Norwegian shared his reaction to being subbed off. Guardiola protected Erling Haaland by replacing him in minute 63 – but took away his chance to set a Champions League record in the process.

“I told him [Guardiola] when I went off, ‘I’d love to score a double hat-trick’. But what can I do!” said a light-hearted Erling Haaland.

Man City’s young star did manage to make some history, though. For instance, he has now scored the most goals in a single season for the Citizens. With 39 goals in 2022/23, Haaland moves clear of Tommy Johnson’s previous record of 38 in 1929.

Additionally, the striker is the youngest player to reach 30 UCL goals, as well as doing it in the least matches. It took Haaland just 25 games to reach that tally, meaning he averages over a goal per European game.

Although the early substitution prevented Erling Haaland from breaking another record, he still joins the Champions League history books.

Erling Haaland matches Champions League record

The forward is just the third player in Champions League history to record five goals in a single match. Interestingly, the first to achieve this was also a Pep Guardiola player.

Of course, this was none other than Lionel Messi, who scorched Bayer Leverkusen for five goals in 2012. Barcelona won 7-1 in their knockout round encounter as Messi stole the limelight.

The Argentine and Haaland are the only stars to net a quintuple in the UCL knockout stages.

Another player has scored five in a game in the competition, though. Going back to 2014, Shakhtar Donetsk forward Luiz Adriano tormented BATE Borisov in a dominant group stage encounter. He scored five times as the Ukrainian giants battered BATE 7-0 away from home.

So, Haaland joins these two players on that remarkable goal tally. Could he have reached six, though?  

Featured image credit: Getty