Man City Secures Champions League Last 16 Spot Thanks to Haaland

Man City Secures Champions League Last 16 Spot Thanks to Haaland

Manchester City stormed into the knockout stages of the Champions League, dispelling concerns about Erling Haaland’s fitness as he scored a brace in a 3-0 victory over the Swiss side Young Boys on Tuesday.

Pep Guardiola’s squad has triumphed in all four of their Group G matches, securing their spot in the last 16 with two matches to spare.

Despite suffering an ankle injury in the first half of City’s 6-1 victory over Bournemouth on Saturday, Haaland was fit to start at the Etihad Stadium. The Norwegian striker demonstrated that there were no lingering injury concerns as he increased his Champions League goal tally to an impressive 39 goals in 34 matches.

Haaland opened the scoring with a first-half penalty and added a second goal with a stunning long-range strike after an impressive effort from Phil Foden doubled the holders’ lead.

In a one-sided contest, Young Boys had Sandro Lauper sent off in the second half, extending City’s remarkable streak of winning all 23 of their home games in 2023. The English record for successive home wins is held by Sunderland with 24, a record dating back to 1891 and 1892.

City is also undefeated in their last 17 Champions League matches, and Guardiola now has the opportunity to rest players in the last two group matches if he chooses to, prioritizing upcoming Premier League fixtures against Tottenham and Crystal Palace.

Guardiola faced a setback when Manuel Akanji was injured in the pre-match warm-up, leading to Kyle Walker filling in for the Swiss defender. However, City had defeated Young Boys 3-1 in Bern a fortnight ago, and it didn’t take long for the treble winners to reassert their dominance.

Relentless City:

Rico Lewis should have given City an early lead when Jack Grealish found him six yards from goal, but the young midfielder’s shot was cleared off the line by Loris Benito.

Young Boys’ goalkeeper Anthony Racioppi was called into action moments later to save Walker’s free-kick and deny Foden on the rebound.

City’s relentless pressure paid off in the 23rd minute when Matheus Nunes’s clever turn drew a foul from Lauper in the Young Boys’ area. Haaland confidently converted the penalty, sending Racioppi the wrong way and celebrating with Didier Drogba’s iconic leap.

Foden added to the lead in first-half stoppage time with a sublime solo effort, controlling Grealish’s pass with finesse, evading Ulisses Garcia, and curling his shot into the far corner from close range.

After curiously swapping shirts with Young Boys’ captain Mohamed Ali Camara at half-time, Haaland extended the lead in the 51st minute, receiving a pass from Lewis and unleashing a powerful strike from the edge of the area.

It marked Haaland’s 15th goal of the season and his 67th in 70 games for City. Lauper was sent off two minutes later for a second booking following a harsh foul on Nathan Ake.

With the match effectively decided, Guardiola was able to substitute Haaland to prepare him for Sunday’s crucial Premier League match against Chelsea.