Guardiola Hails Haaland As On Same Level As Messi, Ronaldo
By Mukhtar Tijjani
It is no secret Erling Haaland scores lots of goals – but his stunning bicycle kick in Manchester City’s victory over Southampton will undoubtedly rank among his best.
There was uncertainty over whether the prolific 22-year-old would start on Saturday after a groin injury, but he announced his return in style by connecting with Jack Grealish’s cross in acrobatic fashion.
That was his second goal of the game as title-chasing City recorded a 4-1 win at St Mary’s to extend their winning run to eight matches in all competitions and maintain pressure on Premier League leaders Arsenal.
“We have lived two incredible decades with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, but he is on that level,” manager Pep Guardiola told BBC Sport.
“The second goal was amazing. It is not easy to pick the ball up in the sky and put it on the grass.”
Guardiola added: “I think our bosses bought him for this type of game. We are uncomfortable and not playing at our best level but he gets the goal.
“The second, you can’t imagine at his height he has this ability. Exceptional goal.”
City, English champions in four of the past five seasons, signed Haaland from Borussia Dortmund for what increasingly appears a bargain £51.2m in July.
Nine months later and the Norway striker has equalled the record of 44 goals in all competitions by a Premier League player in one season.
Through to the Champions League quarter-finals and FA Cup semi-finals, he could have 16 games to shatter that mark set by Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2003 and Mohamed Salah in 2018.
His overhead second at St Mary’s was also his 30th league goal of the campaign. Taking just 27 games, he has reached that total quicker than anyone else.
“He scores a lot of goals. It is insane. He is there. If we create chances he is there,” said team-mate Kevin de Bruyne.
On Haaland’s spectacular second, the Belgian joked: “You will never see me do that! You can get me to Southampton hospital if I do that!
“Haaland is happy here,” he added. “He knows we create a lot of chances and he does the rest.”
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, former Premier League defender Danny Gabbidon described Haaland’s finish as “outrageous”.
“What a finish this is. He’s got so much to do, the cross is behind him and he’s had to adjust. The execution is outstanding,” he added.