Soccer games have legendary individual performances that frequently occur on big evenings out under the lights. The second one was Tuesday. Erling Haaland of Manchester City tied an all-time competition record with five goals in a single game as his team easily defeated RB Leipzig, 7-0 and 8-1 overall, to advance to the semifinals. No player has ever scored more goals in a single Champions League game, and there may not be a better player to carry City to the pinnacle of European soccer.
With 34 goals in 35 games, Haaland enters Tuesday’s Champions League matchup averaging slightly under one goal per game. He became the third player to score five goals in a UCL game with three in the first half—his first two coming in a three-minute span before the half-hour mark—and two in the second. He is one of just three players to have five goals, along with Lionel Messi for Barcelona in 2012 (coached by Pep Guardiola) and Luiz Adriano for Shakhtar Donetsk in 2014.
Only Haaland and Messi have accomplished it in a knockout round. With more than 30 minutes remaining, his fifth goal brought the score to 6-0, suggesting a six-goal performance record was still possible. Nevertheless, Guardiola substituted Julian Alvarez for him in the 63rd minute because the game was already out of control.
Crazy ways of putting the ball away are nothing new. But for the blue side of Manchester, ascending to the continental crest would be unknown territory, and Haaland is aware of what this performance might imply. After the game, Haaland told the Champions League Today postgame team at the venue, Etihad Stadium, “It’s a great feeling.
I could have scored more goals in the first half, he admitted. “I had the rebound with Gundo [Ilkay Gundogan], and I [was] alone with the goalie with the pass from Nate [Ake] — I assumed he was going to play the ball. That’s why I ventured a little further. I would have scored if I had lowered myself two meters. Considering that he fired towards the goalie. I therefore could have scored two more goals in the opening frame. Also, there were Kevin [De Bruyne] crosses that I may have seen. There were possibilities, but no one is sure what would have happened if I had stayed on the field [longer]. I believe that in order to achieve more and remain hungry, I must constantly be on the lookout for the next [opportunity]. Because perhaps someone would be pleased if they scored five goals. You need to be content, but you also need to aspire to greater, of course.
The unassuming Norwegian executed it flawlessly, cleaned up in front of goal, converted a penalty kick, headed the ball in, and more. Although he still has a ways to go before he can statistically match Sergio Aguero as the club’s most productive striker, if he keeps up this pace, he might overtake him by season’s end. The player who has scored the most goals in the Champions League—10, 20, and 30—is Haaland. He appears to be the UCL dream come true for City.
There were concerns that Manchester City would have through another pointless nightmare in Europe on this particular night, as has far too frequently been the case in the past with teams like Tottenham, AS Monaco, and others. They’ve been so close to conquering that European peak, lost to Chelsea in the final in 2021 and twice more, including last season, in the semifinals. The world’s best pure striker is something they’ve never had, but they suddenly have it.
This Manchester City is not the Manchester City of the past, when they had a roster full of the best players in the world but a defense that frequently let them down and an offense that occasionally just wasn’t there when it counted. A prospective multiple Ballon d’Or winner on the team has what it takes to become a true legend of the game and prodigiously carry the team to the greatest of peaks.
Whether or if it actually transpires remains to be seen, but City are as close as they have ever been to achieving their ultimate objective. Premier League victories are no longer used to evaluate this team because they are nothing new.
The 22-year-old superstar, who is fully aware that the competition his heart most desires and that his supporters most desire could soon be, finally, theirs, is in no way satisfied by this performance. He fiercely dons the same light blue kit as his father did many years ago for this reason.
Haaland replied, “You have to be happy, but you have to want more of course.
They didn’t bring me to win the Premier League because they won it four out of the previous five years.