Result Man City vs. FC Copenhagen: final result, goals, highlights and match report of the Champions League

After the first, Pep Guardiola turned to the bench and shook his head in disbelief, as if not everyone present at the Etihad saw it. As if it wasn’t what everyone expects.

After the second, the Manchester City manager rubbed his hands in glee and said several “wows” to his staff. At that point, you might have thought he would keep Erling Haaland on the pitch long enough to score a third goal.

But it turns out that not even one of the most extraordinary starts in a centre-forward’s life in recent times is as important to Guardiola as proper rest and rotation. Haaland was knocked out at half-time in that 5-0 win over Copenhagen. After all, it is now an impressive 19 goals in 12 competitive games for City and 28 goals in 22 appearances in the Champions League – as many as Ryan Giggs has managed in 21 years.

It could easily have been more – at least another hat-trick – if goalkeeper Kamil Grabara hadn’t put in a brilliant performance. Perhaps Guardiola’s decision to substitute Haaland at the break was a sign of recognition for the former Liverpool Academy player’s efforts. It certainly wasn’t a show of grace. Riyad Mahrez and Julian Alvarez added a few more to Haaland’s brace and Davit Khocholava’s own goal to end the defeat

It was all a far cry from the last time these two clubs met, which came during the first season of Abu Dhabi’s takeover, in the early knockout stages of what was then the UEFA Cup. Playing in Europe was still a first for City. A brace from Craig Bellamy, scored in the pouring rain, secured a 4-3 aggregate victory and a place in the last 16 of European competition for the first time in 30 years.

The same feat is seen as a formality these days – even when it comes to the elite – and those three points left City on the verge of qualifying for their ninth consecutive Champions League knockout stage. Victory in the Danish capital next week will guarantee it. Given this evidence, that too will be a formality. As expected, Guardiola’s team dominated the fourth seeded Group G, both with and without Haaland on the pitch.

The tone was set right from the start. It was Copenhagen and a pass straight back to Khocholava was followed by a long, hopeful punt into the field. Ederson collected the ball, continued play and what ensued was a long, uninterrupted streak of City possession that robbed Copenhagen of their third touch of the ball by the third minute. It would be such an evening. An early breakthrough already felt inevitable.

And inevitably it was Haaland. Joao Cancelo’s cross from the right took a slight deflection but that doesn’t seem to mean much these days. Whether a pass is blocked, intercepted or misplaced wildly, the ball still finds its way to his feet. This sat up nicely for him, uncovered at the edge of the penalty area. As he did in Sunday’s Manchester derby to complete his hat-trick, Haaland swept in with his left foot.

Haaland added two more to his remarkable goal tally against Copenhagen

(PA wire)

It was similar with the second. Haaland had by this point been thwarted twice by Grabara, once by a spectacular one-handed stop of a shot so powerful it almost sent the Copenhagen keeper over his own goal line. But whatever, he finds a way. When Grabara received a palm on a long-range shot from Sergio Gomez, who was there to emerge through a crowd of bodies and take the rebound? Who else?

Another long-range shot from Gomez led to the third, which bounced off Khocholava’s shins and dripped over the line. Haaland had been standing right behind the Copenhagen defender, his mere presence being enough to deter Khocholava from a routine clearance. The Norwegian removed his jersey before heading down the tunnel at half-time, which was perhaps an indication he knew he wouldn’t emerge again. His retirement was not due to injury, as it turned out in a lap of honor after the game.

By that point, Haaland’s teammates had reminded everyone that they’re still a pretty good side without him. After Aymeric Laporte was brought down early in the second half, Mahrez converted a confidence-inspiring penalty. The Algerian then became a bidder for Alvarez, who is having to get used to playing as Haaland’s foil but has made a decent start on goal himself with five out of 11 appearances.

Still, there’s only one show in town at the moment, and Haaland only needs one half to be the star. Result Man City vs. FC Copenhagen: final result, goals, highlights and match report of the Champions League

Fry Electronics Team

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