UNSTOPPABLE

The night Haaland emulated Cruyff in Champions League

For well over 80 minutes Dortmund had kept their former star quiet. He had just 26 touches in the game — the fewest of any player.

In Summary

• Known as the phantom goal, it is one of the Dutchman’s most famous strikes — and one which Guardiola feels Haaland replicated perfectly.

• “What a goal,” he said. “I remember a long time ago in Barcelona Johan Cruyff scored one quite similar against Atletico Madrid. It’s nice Erling emulated Johan Cruyff.

Manchester City's Erling Haaland in action against Borussia Dortmund
Manchester City's Erling Haaland in action against Borussia Dortmund
Image: HANDOUT

“They didn’t stop me. I scored.”

When it was put to him after Manchester City’s win over Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Wednesday night that the German side had defended especially well against him, Erling Haaland’s response was typically brusque.

For well over 80 minutes Dortmund had kept their former star quiet. He had just 26 touches in the game — the fewest of any player. But that did not stop him having the final say.

Even by the young forward’s increasingly sky high standards, his winner here was especially impressive. The assist — a sumptuous outside of the boot cross from Joao Cancelo — was good enough in itself.

The finish, in which Haaland threw himself across the ball and acrobatically volleyed it left footed across goalkeeper Alex Meyer, was arguably the best of his 13 goals in nine games for Man City so far.

It drew exuberant praise from his manager, Pep Guardiola, who compared Haaland to his former Barcelona coach Johan Cruyff. In a game against Atletico Madrid in 1973, Cruyff leapt into the air outside the far post, diverting a cross into the net from a remarkably acute angle with the outside of his right heel at chest height.

Known as the phantom goal, it is one of the Dutchman’s most famous strikes — and one which Guardiola feels Haaland replicated perfectly.

“What a goal,” he said. “I remember a long time ago in Barcelona Johan Cruyff scored one quite similar against Atletico Madrid. It’s nice Erling emulated Johan Cruyff.

“Maybe the people who know me know the influence of Cruyff in my life as a person, mentor and manager. Years ago he scored in Camp Nou and scored a goal v Atleti, it was quite similar to Haaland and the moment he scored it I felt Cruyff, it was quite similar.”

On a night where City looked to be on their way to a disappointing result, it was yet another reminder of the game-changing qualities of their number nine. Haaland has now scored 26 goals in 21 Champions League appearances, a goal every 62 minutes on average.

Former Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand said on BT Sport: “What I love about him is a lot of strikers would panic when they aren’t getting much of the ball. He is calm and just thinks, I want goals. It is all about the end product and winning games for Haaland.

“Only certain players can go into a winning dressing room and fit in seamlessly, there has to be arrogance and confidence. He is delivering so much.

“He [Guardiola] isn’t trying to compare them [Cruyff and Haaland] as players but they are players who come up with moments. Only he was going to score that goal tonight.”

Dion Dublin, the former Aston Villa striker, said on BBC Radio 5Live: “Any other player would’ve tried to strike it with their right foot on the volley, but Haaland’s gone with the left foot. It’s hard to describe. He’s got to be at least eight foot in the air when he connects with the ball, it’s an amazing finish.

“He’s gone with the correct foot obviously because it’s gone in the back of the net! He’s a left-footer and many times, you will do things in an unorthodox way with your good foot which makes it look really difficult, but you’re more comfortable because it’s your good foot. Man City were below par, but even so, they got over the line. Two very, very good goals. Stones’ goal was 22 yards out, what a strike that was.

“And then you’ve got Haaland. I don’t know what he’s thinking, finishing with the wrong side of the foot in mid-air. Absolutely outstanding finish.”

For Dortmund, having taken the lead through the outstanding Jude Bellingham and kept Haaland quite for so long, this was a defeat that was hard to take.

“It was not one of those games where you can get on the ball and have loads of possession,” said Bellingham afterwards. “We knew we’d spend the majority of the game without the ball. We were brilliant for 75 minutes but that’s enough time for City to put you away.

“That’s what great teams can do. You don’t give them a sniff and out of nothing they score and tilt the game back in their favour.”

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