Quiet night for Haaland with just a brace as City cruise past Copenhagen 

No hat trick but striker takes tally to 19 in 11 games and his Champions League career record to an other-worldly 28 in 22 matches
Quiet night for Haaland with just a brace as City cruise past Copenhagen 

UNSTOPPABLE: Manchester City's Erling Haaland celebrates scoring the second goal of the game during the UEFA Champions League Group G match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. Pic: Nick Potts/PA Wire


MANCHESTER City as good as booked their place in the Champions League knock-out stages with an effortless stroll against the Danish visitors to the Etihad but, not for the first or last time, the focus was on their number nine rather than the outcome of a lopsided non-contest.

Erling Haaland scored twice, taking his tally for this season to 19 in 11 games and his Champions League career record to an other-worldly 28 in 22 matches.

How out of the ordinary is that latter statistic? Consider that Cristiano Ronaldo, the competition’s leading all-time scorer with 140 goals, scored just once in his first 22 Champions League games and Haaland’s efforts can be truly put into perspective.

There are many external factors that could yet see Haaland come nowhere near to eclipsing Ronaldo’s scoring feats, of course, but that does not detract from what is threatening to become one of the most astonishing seasons in football history.

By the time manager Pep Guardiola brought off his star asset at the interval, Haaland was averaging one goal every 45.5 minutes for his club this season - effectively, two goals a game.

Haaland’s first, after seven minutes, was one of the Norwegian’s more routine efforts as Joao Cancelo’s cross was deflected into his path via David Khocholava and swept in from 12 yards.

The wisdom, and abilities, of a Copenhagen defence that had opted to leave the world game’s most feared striker unmarked at that attack were questionable.

And, but for their former Huddersfield keeper Kamil Grabara, making his return from a fractured cheekbone he suffered in July, the scoreline could have been far more damaging before City doubled their lead.

Haaland again, of course, was the scorer as a terrific shot from Sergio Gomez was parried by the Polish keeper and Haaland pounced to force the loose ball over the line.

The rout was on, and Haaland sensing the chance to score his fourth hat-trick in his last five Etihad appearances.

But, by half-time, City would be 3-0 in front and Guardiola took the option to rest his precious commodity at the interval, bringing on youngster Cole Palmer for some Champions League experience.

That third had come on 39 minutes, when another strong strike from Gomez took a double deflection off Denis Vavro and Khocholava on its way past a stranded Grabara.

Haaland would doubtless have been left wishing his manager had kept him on until at least the hour mark because, after 55 minutes Marko Stamenic hauled down Aymeric Laporte at a corner and the Lithuanian referee pointed to the spot.

Had Haaland still been on the field, it would surely have been his penalty to take; in his absence, Riyhad Mahrez made no mistake with a clinical left-foot finish that assured City would extend their unbeaten run in home Champions League games to 22 - 20 of them victories.

Without Haaland’s presence, the game was a complete non-event, thereafter with bored supporters reduced to turning on the torches on their phones at one stage in an impromptu light show.

There was a first, and only, chance for the Danes when Paul Mukairu went clean on goal but hesitated and was denied by a good piece of goalkeeping from Ederson before Julian Alvarez completed the evening’s work after 76 minutes.

Jack Grealish broke through the middle and his pass to Mahrez was turned across goal for the Argentinian to finish comfortably intro the open goal.

Man City (4-4-2): Ederson 7; Cancelo 7 (Lewis 57, 7), Dias 7, Laporte 7, Gomez 7; Mahrez 7, Gundogan 8, Silva 8 (Wilson-Esbrand 66, 7), Grealish 7; Haaland 9 (Palmer 45, 6), Alvarez 7. Substitutes (not used): Ake, Rodri, De Bruyne, Ortega, Akanji, Carson, Foden.

FC Copenhagen (4-3-3): Grabara 8; Diks 5 (Ankersen 66, 5), Vavro 4, Khocholava 4, Kristiansen 5; Stamenic 6, Lerager 6 (Sorensen, 79, 5), Johannesson 5; Claesson 6 (Mukairu 66, 5), Karamoko 5 (Lund 45, 5), Daramy 5 (Haraldsson 56, 5). Substitutes (not used): Sorensen, Babacar, Cornelius, Jelert, Johnsson, Bardghji, Ryan.

Referee: D Rumsas (Lithuania) 7 Ends

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