Pep Guardiola backs Erling Haaland to improve
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Manchester United icon Rio Ferdinand was forced to applaud Manchester City striker Erling Haaland as the Norwegian exited the pitch against RB Leipzig, having scored a stunning five times in their Champions League tie. Haaland got five as City coasted to a comfortable 7-0 win over the German side to see them into the quarter-finals.
Haaland got five inside an hour as he joined the likes of Lionel Messi who hold the Champions League record for most goals in one game, though he was swiftly hauled off by Pep Guardiola shortly after his fifth goal.
The Spanish coach’s decision was met with groans from the City faithful before they shortly got up on their feet and applauded their goalscoring hero, as they were joined by Ferdinand.
Ferdinand has never hidden his true feelings for City, fierce rivals to the United side that he represented for many years but could not stop himself from giving his appreciation to Haaland for his efforts at the Etihad.
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Ferdinand was working for BT Sport covering the game, as presenter Jake Humphrey shared a video on Twitter of Ferdinand applauding Haaland as he was substituted off. “Even clapped off by a United legend,” Humphrey wrote. “What a player. What a performance.”
Haaland got four rebounds and a penalty to draw level with Messi for the single-game record in a game where he became the youngest-ever player to reach 30 goals in the competition – surpassing Kylian Mbappe.
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The 22-year-old finishes were typical of a forward that has perfected the art of positioning in the penalty area, while also taking the spot kick which he fired past Janis Blaswich in the Leipzig goal.
Ferdinand raved over Leipzig centre-back Josko Gvardiol before the game, as the Croatian handled Haaland well in the first leg but admitted that the World Cup star had lost this particular battle.
“We spoke about Gvardiol, the centre-back who’s being courted by all the top clubs in the world, and he [Haaland] has put him through the ringer this half,” Ferdinand said at half-time. “He’s made him nervous, every duel they’ve had he’s probably come out on top. Nightmare first half.”
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