• With City leading an out-of-their-depth Young Boys 2-0 at half-time, visiting captain Mohamed Ali Camara asked Haaland for his shirt as they left the pitch.
• Still just 23 and in only his fifth season in the competition, the Norway striker is already 20th in the all-time list of scorers.
Erling Haaland is so good, he now has players asking for his shirt at half-time.
The Norwegian scored twice as Manchester City beat Young Boys 3-0 to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages — along with RB Leipzig — with two games to spare, but it was the unexpected shirt swap that had everyone talking.
With City leading an out-of-their-depth Young Boys 2-0 at half-time, visiting captain Mohamed Ali Camara asked Haaland for his shirt as they left the pitch. The striker duly obliged, although appeared to say “you cannot do this” as he did it.
“100 per cent not having it. That’s embarrassing,” was the immediate reaction of ex-Scotland striker Ally McCoist on TNT Sports, and there was disbelief on social media at Camara’s actions. But when Haaland fired in a sensational second after the break from 20 yards, McCoist added: “To be fair, I’d be asking for his jersey after that. He’s a machine.”
Young Boys coach Raphael Wicky said he was “surprised” and would have a “few words” with his skipper. Haaland’s scoring exploits continue to astound.
He now has 39 goals in 34 Champions League matches. Still just 23 and in only his fifth season in the competition, the Norway striker is already 20th in the all-time list of scorers.
His tally since joining City is just as prolific. He has scored 67 goals in 70 games since signing from Borussia Dortmund last summer - breaking a host of records along the way.
After watching Haaland score just his third goal from outside the box for City, former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand told TNT: “He is frightening. If he starts adding scoring from long range to his game, he is becoming impossible to mark.”
No English side has ever retained the Champions League trophy, while Nottingham Forest were the last from the country to successfully defend the European Cup back in 1980. The formidable Blues will have their sights on making more history.
The comfortable win sees last season’s Treble winners set a new unbeaten European record for an English side of 18 games, the fifth-longest run of any team since the Champions League era began in 1992.
The last time they failed to score in a Champions League match was more than a year ago on October 25, 2022 when they were held 0-0 by Borussia Dortmund in Germany.
Retaining football’s top European club trophy is no easy task, with only Real Madrid having done it in the Champions League era. Only eight clubs have ever defended their title in Europe’s elite competition. McCoist believes Guardiola’s men could become the second since 1992.
He said: “I thought they would miss [Riyad] Mahrez. I thought they would miss [Ilkay] Gundogan, but they look as strong as ever.
“You wouldn’t bet against City doing it. They are a great side, great players and have a great coach. It is so easy for them at times.”
City have made Etihad Stadium a fortress during 2023. They have won every home game during the calendar year, taking the run to 23 matches in all competitions.
Sunderland hold the English record with 24 successive home wins, dating back to 1891 and 1892. Liverpool are up next at the Etihad.
“The word that defines this group of players for many years is the consistency,” said Guardiola. “I know how much better the competitions get, all the time.
“We have high standards and and that is why we are still in the Premier League up there and qualified from the Champions League. People say ‘yeah, the group stage, it is easy’, but you have to do it.
“In life, you have to do it when people expect you to do it. Two games left. Leipzig are the toughest opponents in this group and we have to try and finish further. It is important in the last 16 to have the weapon of the second game at home rather than away.”
Ferdinand, added: “It is a mentality thing now for Manchester City to pursue greatness. They will set new targets and not be accepting that they have won things. It can be difficult and draining mentally. They will have a manager who will set the standards.
“Real Madrid have that relationship with this tournament, the forward line at Bayern could cause anyone problems. But I don’t see anyone who is the full package like Man City are. This is the only team I see as the complete team.”