Soccer-Guardiola praises 'fantastic player' Haaland - again - after another record

  • Football
  • Wednesday, 29 Nov 2023

Soccer Football - Champions League - Group G - Manchester City v RB Leipzig - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - November 28, 2023 Manchester City's Erling Braut Haaland celebrates after the match REUTERS/Molly Darlington

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Yet another goals record on Erling Haaland's bulging CV had Pep Guardiola sounding on Tuesday - tongue-in-cheek - like he was growing tired of answering questions about his prolific scorer.

The 23-year-old became the fastest to score 40 Champions League goals with his strike in the 54th minute that sparked City's 3-2 comeback victory over RB Leipzig that clinched them top spot in Group G with a round of group games remaining.

Three days earlier, Haaland had become the fastest to net 50 Premier League goals in a 1-1 draw with Liverpool.

"Again? I have to tell you again?" Guardiola laughed, when asked for comment. "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."

It took Haaland just 35 matches to reach 40 goals, smashing Ruud van Nistelrooy's mark of 45 games.

But more importantly to Guardiola, it kick-started City's comeback after a woefully sluggish first half left them trailing by two goals for the first time in a Champions League game since 2018.

Guardiola said he hoped his players would learn from the roller-coaster game.

"To win in that game not comfortably, to realise, to put in front of the mirror and say 'We have to do better,'" he said.

"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."

City took a different route to Etihad Stadium on Tuesday at Guardiola's request. The manager wanted his team to see the trinity statue of Colin Bell, Francis Lee and Mike Summerbee that was unveiled earlier in the day.

"I encouraged the club to drop us, the bus, there and we can walk," Guardiola said. "So another gesture for the three important (players)... really really nice."

(Reporting by Lori Ewing; Editing by Toby Davis)

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