The Champions League anthem is Erling Haaland’s alarm and it would be tempting to call his debut appearance in this competition for Manchester City a wake-up call for the rest of Europe if they indeed needed one. Haaland will wake up a happy man tomorrow morning after his first goals in the continent’s elite club competition for his new club extended his remarkable start in life as a City player. The Norwegian now has 12 goals in seven games.
If Pep Guardiola rightly believes that Haaland City won’t win their first European Cup on their own, he will certainly help. The scariest thing is, based on this evidence, they might not even need him. Fourth-placed in La Liga last season, Sevilla were knocked aside by four unanswered goals and players taunted by Julen Lopetegui, despite the best efforts of a loud Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, who had no understanding of his players’ efforts after the final whistle asked for forgiveness for the defeat.
As you can imagine, Sevilla aren’t the only side City will do this to in this group stage, let alone this competition. Haaland’s two goals were further testament to his pure scoring instincts, his ability to be in the right place at the right time and blast his way there with brute force and power if need be. His brace stopped a Phil Foden goal while Ruben Dias completed the late goal.
With defensive injuries piling up, Guardiola drafted Manuel Akanji for a full debut at right centre-back on deadline day and gave left-back Sergio Gomez a first go. Seville has problems of its own, only more permanent. The loss of centre-backs Jules Koundé and Diego Carlos in the summer resulted in a miserable start to the new LaLiga season, with Julen Lopetegui’s team winless and fourth from bottom.
Considering that, they might never have had much of a chance and although it took City some time to change gears, both the first goal and his goalscorer were inevitable. You could feel Kevin De Bruyne already had everything planned as he instructed Joao Cancelo to feed Foden wide and then darted to the touchline. Slipping in through Foden’s pass, his cross at the far post was converted by who else but Haaland.
With his long left leg stabbed to the full, it was the Norwegian’s eleventh goal in seven games, his fifth straight game to hit the net and the third time he has scored on his Champions League debut new club despite being only 22 years old. He’s 37th in the competition’s all-time top scorers list, which sounds unspectacular until you remember that this was only his 20th game.
Even if this extraordinary start to Haaland’s City career comes as no surprise, it is amazing how much space and time he gives himself. Despite being the most marked player on the pitch, he made a comeback at the far post to convert, just as he did on a De Bruyne cross at Villa Park. It was the third time the two had come together for a Haaland goal this season. Watching City play in the moment means seeing their mutual understanding grow in real time.
Haaland did his best to retaliate early in the second half, using Sevilla’s weak positioning to put De Bruyne through one-on-one, but goalkeeper Bono was equal to a low, left-footed and oddly lethargic try. Another night, perhaps later in this contest against tougher competition, it was the kind of miss that could be punished. But in the absence of any threat from Sevilla, you felt City would handle it.
It wouldn’t be long before the second one came anyway. Foden received the ball under pressure in a crowded box, but nimble footwork spun it away from Nemanja Gudelj and another check off his marker created enough room for a shot that crept into the near post. It was the kind of goal, full of sleight of hand and weight shifting, that Foden threatens to score on a weekly basis. He featured a further nine minutes later, forcing Bono to parry a shot from the edge of the box straight into Haaland’s run.
That inevitably led to City’s third-place finish and the score reflected their dominance. The usual string of substitutions and possession followed en route to a smooth three points, secured once and for all by a 92nd-minute cross from Dias from Cancelo. While it’s a little worrying that it should be so easy that the fourth-best team in Spain should be beaten so comfortably last season, that’s also precisely why City are the favorites to reach Istanbul and as Europe’s to be recognized as the best team.
Seville (4-2-3-1): Bono; Navas, Carmona, Nianzou, Acuna; Rakitic, Delaney, Gudelj; Gomez, Rakitic, Telles; isco
Substitutes: Dmitrovic, Alberto Flores, Montiel, Rekik, Dolberg, Suso, Jordan, Januzaj, Rafa Mir, En-Nesyri, Fernando, Kike Salas.
Manchester City (4-3-3): Ederson; Cancelo, Dias, Akanji, Gomez; Rodri, Bernardo, DeBruyne; Foden, Haaland, Grealisch.
Substitutes: Ortega, Carson, Phillips, Aké, Gundogan, Alvarez, Mahrez, Palmer, Lewis, Wilson-Esbrand.
Referee: D. Massa (Italy)
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/man-city-sevilla-haaland-result-final-score-b2160903.html Erling Haaland scores twice as Man City beat Sevilla in Champions League