Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola substituted Erling Haaland so the titanic Norwegian would not get “bored” of scoring goals.
The imperious No.9 tucked away five goals in a resounding 7-0 victory over RB Leipzig in the Champions League Round of 16. His jaw-dropping goal haul saw him become the fastest player to reach 30 goals, City’s highest goalscorer in a single season, and also the first player to score five Champions League goals in one match since Luiz Adriano plundered five for Shakhtar Donestk in a 7-0 away victory over BATE Borisov in 2014.
However, with Haaland tucking away his fifth goal in the 57th minute, the Etihad Stadium thought he had plenty of time to help himself to even more goals. Unfortunately for the expectant City fans, Guardiola cut his evening short by taking him off in the 63rd minute.
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"If he achieves this milestone at 22, 23, it will be boring his life," Guardiola joked in his post-match press conference, when asked why he took Haaland off so soon after he scored his fifth. "He wouldn't have a target to reach in the future.
“Here and everywhere. That's why I make a substitution. I didn't know about Messi with Leverkusen (when he scored five against them in 2012), but I make a substitution because normally when the game is over we want them to play.
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"He scored five goals. The problem is every time we don't score two or three he will be criticised. This is the reality." Guardiola also said he usually takes Haaland off when he has already bagged himself a nice selection of goals. Terrifyingly, the Catalan also believes there could be even more on the way.
"Most of the time, when he scores hat-tricks after 60-65 minutes I make a substitution," Guardiola said. "Today he scored five but touched 30-35 ball contacts. This is what we're looking for.
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“When you're involved in a game defensively, the ball comes to score goals you're more clever, more precise. Gundogan scores goals, he can do it. Sometimes it's his fault, sometimes he doesn't move.
"For example at Crystal Palace he didn't move, I said 'you didn't play good today'. Other days it is our fault, like in Leipzig we didn't find him. Sooner or later we're working a bit, everyone we try to make the process quicker.”
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