Erling Haaland scores twice as Man City sweep aside Sevilla in Champions League

Erling Haaland and Phil Foden celebrate City’s third goal

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The Champions League anthem is Erling Haaland’s alarm and it would be tempting to describe his first appearance in this competition for Manchester City as a wake up call for the rest of Europe, if indeed they really needed one. Haaland will wake up tomorrow morning a happy man after his first goals in the continent’s elite club competition for his new club extended his remarkable start to life as a City player. It is now 12 goals in seven games for the Norwegian.

If Pep Guardiola is right to believe that Haaland will not win City their first European Cup on his own, he will certainly help. The scariest thing is, on this evidence, they may not even need him. Sevilla, the fourth-placed side in La Liga last season, were swatted aside by four unanswered goals despite the best efforts of a noisy Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, which had no sympathy for the efforts of their players after the final whistle, jeering Julen Lopetegui’s players as they sought forgiveness for the defeat.

You imagine Sevilla are not the only side that City will do this to in this group stage, let alone this competition. Haaland’s two goals were further evidence of his pure goalscoring instinct, his ability to be in the right place at the right time, as well as bludgeon his way there through raw strength and power if he has to. His brace sandwiched a Phil Foden strike, while Ruben Dias rounded off the scoring late on.

With defensive injuries piling up, Guardiola drafted in deadline day signing Manuel Akanji for a full debut as a right-sided centre-half and handed a first start to left-back Sergio Gomez. Sevilla have issues at the back of their own, only more permanent. The loss of centre-halves Jules Koundé and Diego Carlos over the summer precipitated a miserable start to the new Liga campaign, with Julen Lopetegui’s side winless and fourth-bottom.

Given that, perhaps they never stood much of a chance, and though it took time for City to move through the gears, there was inevitability about both the first goal and its scorer. You sensed that Kevin De Bruyne already had it all planned out when he directed Joao Cancelo to feed Foden wide, then made a dart for the byline. When he was slipped in by Foden’s pass, his far post cross was converted by who else but Haaland.

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Erling Haaland inspired Manchester City to victory again (Nick Potts/PA)

Stabbed in with the full extension of his long left leg, this was the Norwegian’s eleventh goal in seven appearances, the fifth game in a row in which he has found the net, and the third time that he has scored on his Champions League debut for a new club despite still being just 22-years-old. He sits at 37th in the competition’s all-time scoring standings, which sounds unremarkable until you remember this was only his 20th game.

If this extraordinary start to Haaland’s City career comes as little surprise, it is still astounding how much space and time he makes for himself. Despite being the most closely marked player on the pitch, he arrived unopposed at the far post to convert, just as he did for a De Bruyne cross at Villa Park. It was the third time that the pair have combined for a Haaland goal already this season. To watch City play at the moment is to see their mutual understanding growing in real time.

Haaland did his best to return the favour at the start of the second half, capitalising on Sevilla’s slack positioning to slip De Bruyne through one-on-one, but goalkeeper Bono was equal to a low, left-footed and oddly lethargic attempt. On another night, perhaps later in this competition against more formidable opposition, it was the type of miss that might be punished. But in the absence of any threat going forward from Sevilla whatsoever, you felt City would cope.

It would not take long for the second to arrive anyway. Foden received the ball under pressure inside a crowded penalty area but some nimble footwork spun him away from Nemanja Gudelj, and another check away from his marker created enough room for a shot that crept inside the near post. It was the type of goal, full of sleights of hand and shifts of weight, that Foden threatens to score on a weekly basis. He fancied another nine minutes later, forcing Bono to parry a shot from the edge of the box straight into Haaland’s path.

That, inevitably, set up City’s third and gave the scoreline a true reflection of their dominance. The usual string of substitutions and procession of possession followed on the way to a straightforward three points, secured once and for all by Dias’ 92nd-minute tap-in of a Cancelo cross. If it is slightly concerning that it should be this easy, that the fourth-best team in Spain last season should be so comfortably beaten, it is also exactly why City are favourites to reach Istanbul and earn recognition as Europe’s best.

Sevilla (4-2-3-1): Bono; Navas, Carmona, Nianzou, Acuna; Rakitic, Delaney, Gudelj; Gomez, Rakitic, Telles; Isco.

Substitutes: Dmitrovic, Alberto Flores, Montiel, Rekik, Dolberg, Suso, Jordan, Januzaj, Rafa Mir, En-Nesyri, Fernando, Kike Salas.

Manchester City (4-3-3): Ederson; Cancelo, Dias, Akanji, Gomez; Rodri, Bernardo, De Bruyne; Foden, Haaland, Grealish.

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Substitutes: Ortega, Carson, Phillips, Aké, Gundogan, Alvarez, Mahrez, Palmer, Lewis, Wilson-Esbrand.

Referee: D Massa (Italy)

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