Haaland’s goal reminds Pep of Cruyff Erling Haaland

LONDON. — Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said Erling Haaland’s spectacular winner in Wednesday night’s victory over Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League football reminded him of former Dutch great Johan Cruyff.

The Norwegian leapt at the back post, six minutes from the end of the Champions League Group G game to hook a Joao Cancelo cross into the net with the outside of his left-foot. “What a goal. I remember a long time ago in Barcelona Johan Cruyff scored one quite similar against Atletico Madrid. It’s nice Erling emulated Johan Cruyff,” Guardiola, a former Barca player and coach, told reporters.

City had to come back from a goal down with two strikes in the final 10 minutes to secure the win against a determined German side and Guardiola was far from happy about the way his team, once again, had to turn the game around.

“We are used to doing it lately. I don’t like it,” he said, reflecting on a poor first-half display from his team that only changed with a 58th-minute triple substitution.

“We played in the wrong gear today. No aggression. We were passive. The moment we changed rhythm with Phil (Foden), Bernardo (Silva) and Julian (Alvarez), we changed our pace and scored two excellent goals,” he said.

The equaliser came via a thundering long-range drive from defender John Stones.

“I’m pretty sure the way were playing in the first half John wouldn’t have had the courage to try it but we had the rhythm and momentum and we said OK it’s going to happen. It was exceptional. 

I’m so happy for him,” he said.

“They are an exceptional team. We knew it. We weren’t good enough today. At the same time it’s always good to have that resilience – let’s go, let’s go, let’s go. Having Julian and Erling in the box, having that alternative, it works,” Guardiola added.

Meanwhile, there was no tactical wizardry to mark Graham Potter’s first game as Chelsea’s new manager but, despite a 1-1 draw at home to Salzburg in the Champions League, there were positive signs at the start of another new era for the club.

Taking charge of his first Champions League fixture, the 47-year-old Englishman was heartened by a Chelsea display which on another night would have merited three points.

Chelsea’s passing tempo was high throughout, goalscorer Raheem Sterling was superb in an advanced left wing back role with Reece James also impressing on the right and, apart from a few defensive lapses, Potter’s back three looked solid.

There were areas of concern too. New signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looked out of touch and Chelsea lacked the clinical edge to put the game to bed before Salzburg’s reply from Noah Okafor. “Did what Voldemort couldn’t and got a result against Potter,” Salzburg posted on Twitter, referencing Potter’s fictional namesake Harry.

Chelsea have failed to win either of their two opening games in the Champions League for the first time since 1999. 

They sit bottom of Group E with one point from two games and, with a double-header against Milan to come, they face a scrap to reach the last 16.

Potter is only the eighth Englishman to manage in the Champions League after last week replacing Thomas Tuchel, the German who won the competition for the Londoners a few months after being hired in 2021. — AFP.

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