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Haaland Sparks City Comeback: Guardiola's View on Record Triumph

 Haaland Sparks City Comeback: Guardiola's View on Record Triumph

Erling Haaland of Manchester City
Erling Haaland of Manchester City heads towards goal during the UEFA Champions League match between Manchester City and RB Leipzig at Etihad Stadium on November 28, 2023 in Manchester, England.(Image-Getty) 

Pep Guardiola, with a hint of playful fatigue in his tone, found himself once again extolling the goal-scoring prowess of Erling Haaland on Tuesday. The 23-year-old dynamo added another feather to his cap by becoming the fastest player to reach 40 Champions League goals, sealing the accolade with a 54th-minute strike that propelled Manchester City to a 3-2 comeback victory over RB Leipzig, securing their top spot in Group G with a game to spare.

In a deja vu scenario, just three days earlier, Haaland had claimed the title of the quickest to notch 50 Premier League goals during a 1-1 draw against Liverpool. Guardiola, greeted with the repetitive inquiry, chuckled, "Again? I have to tell you again?" Expressing his admiration, he added, "A thousand million times, I'm really impressed. They won today. Another record. Congratulations. He's a fantastic player. I tell you many times, we're really, really pleased. We love him, not just for the goals he scores, but for many many other things."

Haaland's meteoric achievement took only 35 matches, dismantling Ruud van Nistelrooy's previous record of 45 games. Beyond the individual milestone, Guardiola highlighted the significance of Haaland's goal in sparking City's revival after a lackluster first half that saw them trailing by two goals, an unusual scenario not witnessed in a Champions League game since 2018.

Reflecting on the roller-coaster match, Guardiola expressed his hope that his players would glean valuable lessons. "To win in that game not comfortably, to realize, to put in front of the mirror and say 'We have to do better,'" he remarked. Looking ahead to the future, Guardiola remained optimistic, stating, "But February (the round of 16) we'll be there top of the group, I don't know who we're going to face but the second leg will be (at home), and we showed again that we are able to make a comeback."

In an unusual pre-match journey, City took a detour to Etihad Stadium at Guardiola's behest. The manager wanted his team to witness the unveiling of the trinity statue honoring Colin Bell, Francis Lee, and Mike Summerbee earlier that day. "I encouraged the club to drop us, the bus, there and we can walk," Guardiola explained. "So another gesture for the three important (players)... really really nice."

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