‘Spoil sport’ Guardiola hooks Haaland before he can break Messi record

He had to go and ruin it, didn't he?

Just as Erling Haaland was clicking through the gears, five goals to his name and with another half hour still to play, Pep Guardiola had seen enough. Perhaps he felt sorry for RB Leipzig, who will no doubt have been delighted to see the Norwegian's number go up – but they were the only ones inside the Etihad who felt that way.

Haaland was simply sensational against the German club, who struggled to contain the 22-year-old – few could when he's in this irrepressibly rampant mood. But in resting his legs, Guardiola denied his forward the chance to write history and snatch a record from his former player, Lionel Messi.

READ MORE: Erling Haaland making a mockery of records after five-goal haul in Champions League

Fans were quick to pour scorn on City's manager. "Spoil sport @Pep," one wrote on Twitter, as another commented: "Pep really not letting Haaland break Messi's record lmaoo."

Another blasted sarcastically: "Pep subbing Haaland off to save what's left of Messi's CL legacy. That’s why he’s the Greatest Coach ever."

Haaland's quintet was only the third time ever in the Champions League that a player has scored five times in a single game. Messi was the first player to achieve the feat, for his scintillating display for Barcelona against Bayer Leverkusen back in 2012, while Shakhtar Donetsk's Luiz Adriano did the same against BATE Borisov in 2014.

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It was an equally outstanding evening for one of the potential successors to Messi's throne in Haaland, who got off the mark from the penalty spot 22 minutes in following a dubious handball decision by referee Slavko Vincic.

Just 78 seconds later, Haaland had the ball in the net again, this time heading home a rebound after Kevin De Bruyne's shot cannoned back off the crossbar. There was some controversy in the lead-up to that goal, too, as Haaland appeared to foul Leipzig goalkeeper Janis Blaswich prior to De Bruyne's shot, though it went unpunished.

There was little doubt over his third goal, however, as he was in the right place at the right time to block a clearance from just yards out to score after Ruben Dias' effort had teetered on the goalline. City were 3-0 up at the break and cruising into the quarter-finals, while Haaland was taking home the match ball.

Like all good goalscorers, though, he wasn't quite finished. After Ilkay Gundogan killed any faint Leipzig hopes of a revival, Haaland smashed home two rebounds from inside the box in the space of four minutes.

City's star striker was really finding his groove and the huge smile on his face was a clear indication he was enjoying himself. But by 66 minutes, his evening was over, as Guardiola subbed him off to a standing ovation.

Messi's now joint-record remained in tact, though Haaland did not end his night completely empty-handed. His goals took his tally to an almighty 39 from his first 36 appearances for the club, beating a 94-year record held by Tommy Johnson's 38 goals in a season for City. He also became the youngest player to hit 30 goals in the Champions League as Rio Ferdinand predicted after the match: "What this young man is doing, records are going to come tumbling."

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Speaking on BT Sport after full-time, Haaland said: "It's a big night, first of all I really love to be in the Champions League. I love this competition. Five goals, I'm so happy." Asked which of his goals was his favourite, he admitted: "I don't remember the goals, just shooting, not thinking."

"I was just trying to get the ball in the back of the net," he added. "A lot of it is being quick in the mind and trying to do the right thing, putting it where the keeper is not. obviously some quality, but a lot of it is in the head."

Discussing Guardiola's decision to sub him, Haaland revealed: "I told him when I was off 'I would love to score a double hat-trick', but I had to come off."


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