July 25, 2024
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Haaland double seals Man City win at Young Boys

Manchester City maintained their perfect Champions League record with a hard-fought win at Young Boys.

Erling Haaland scored twice in the second half, his first Champions League goal in six games, first with a penalty, then a fine curling effort.

Reigning champions City had dominated proceedings and led in the 48th minute when Manuel Akanji tapped in.

The Swiss hosts pulled level shortly after through Meschack Elia’s exquisite chip.

‘People want Haaland to fail – but he will score’ How do you rate Manchester City’s performance? Have your say here Football Daily podcast: Analysis of Man City’s win

But Haaland’s 67th-minute penalty, followed by his second with four minutes remaining, ensured City remain top of Group G with nine points from three games.

“That is how it goes, if you don’t take them chances it can be difficult,” City defender Rico Lewis told TNT Sports. “In the end, the forwards took their chances and we won the game.”

Pep Guardiola’s side are now unbeaten in their past 16 Champions League matches, winning 10 and drawing six, with only Manchester United between 2007 and 2009 ever having a longer run without defeat among English teams in the competition.

They led when Switzerland defender Akanji netted in his homeland from close range after Ruben Dias’ header was palmed onto the crossbar by Young Boys keeper Anthony Racioppi.

City were pegged back in style when Elia was set free with a direct through ball to perfectly lob the stranded Ederson.

But Rodri was caught on the ankle by a clumsy Mohamed Ali Camara lunge in the box, which allowed Haaland to slam home from the spot and seal all three points in Bern – before he added gloss to the scoreline.

Three points, no injuries, job done

For the holders, this game was about getting out of Wankdorf Stadium with their 100% group record intact and injury-free, with the Manchester derby at Old Trafford in four days’ time.

Concerns were raised about the artificial pitch, which was criticised by Guardiola in his pre-match media conference and in his TV interview afterwards.

“On this pitch, it is more difficult, the ball comes in a different shape,” he told TNT Sports. “But the way we played positionally was really good.”

It was thought that artificial turf could cause injuries and that it would take longer for players to recover fitness than if they played on grass. Torrential rain throughout this fixture did not help.

“It was a difficult game with the surface and the weather. The environment we are in Young Boys are used to,” said Lewis.

“We played well in the first half and it was a bit back and forth in the second half, but we got the job done.”

City clearly wanted the game won early and soon settled into possession-heavy domination, but in the first half their finishing was as questionable as the cardigan-and-jeans combination in which the players arrived for the match.

Haaland cut a frustrated figure at times as City were made to work hard for this win against a disciplined Young Boys side.

The Swiss champions have a history of upsetting Manchester teams – their most recent home against Premier League opposition saw them beat United 2-1 in the 2021-22 Champions League – and they were comfortable inviting the City pressure, playing on the counter-attack.

They refused to be cowed when City broke through, only for Haaland to intervene and snatch all three points. Now all eyes turn to Sunday.

Grealish returns to City XI

Guardiola made six changes to his starting XI from Saturday’s 2-1 Premier League win over Brighton, including the return of Jack Grealish.

The midfielder has struggled for game time since recovering from a dead leg last month, being named on the bench for the past four fixtures, but was backed by his manager who pre-match said he did not “have a piece of doubt about Jack”.

The England international nearly helped put City ahead twice in the first half, first finding Jeremy Doku in space in the area, but the Belgian fired straight at the goalkeeper.

Then Grealish’s curling shot on 34 minutes was dropped by Racioppi, allowing Matheus Nunes to bundle the ball towards goal before Loris Benito cleared off the goalline.

Grealish faded in the second half and inadvertently denied City a goal when he miscontrolled the ball onto his arm before playing in Julian Alvarez whose calm finish was disallowed by VAR.

Source: BBC

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