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Cancelo, Quaresma and the art of the Trivela: The history behind the assist for Haaland's freakish goal

4:24 AM EDT 9/16/22
Joao Cancelo 2022-23
Manchester City's 2-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund would not have happened without Joao Cancelo.

Erling Haaland's finish against Borussia Dortmund was a goal of wonder. Instinctive movement, followed by athleticism, acrobatics and a killer touch.

Pep Guardiola said it brought back memories of Johan Cruyff while also dropping in the name of Zlatan Ibrahimovic for Haaland's leap and technique. Not a bad couple of comparisons for the Manchester City striker.

But what made the goal more complete was that it came after a wonderful delivery from Joao Cancelo - an exquisite arcing cross that curled between Dortmund's defence to give Haaland his real first sight of goal.

The pass was given equal billing in Portugal: "Ma-gis-tral! Trivela de Cancelo e golo karateca de Haaland" or "Masterful! Cancelo's Trivela and Haaland's karate goal" was the headline on the website Mais Futebol.

Not simply because Cancelo is a star of the Portugal national team, but also because of an affection for the art behind that style of pass.

For a start, Portuguese and Brazilians know the skill by the far more enchanting name of Trivela as opposed to the drab description of "outside of the foot" as it's functionally known in England.

But also because former Portugal, Sporting CP and Barcelona star Ricardo Quaresma is known as the king of the Trivelas.

"My Trivela is better than [Cancelo's]," City and Portugal team-mate Ruben Dias says in the Together: Champions Again! documentary which captures last season's title success.

"After Quaresma, I'm the best," replies Cancelo.

A YouTube highlights reel compiles an incredible array of goals and assists by the winger of what became his signature move throughout his career.

Chief among them are two spectacular strikes for his country - a Euro 2008 qualifier against Belgium when he scored from the edge of the box and a similar goal 10 years later at the 2018 World Cup against Iran - but there's plenty more from his club career.

Beyond Quaresma, there's been other treasured goals scored with the outside of the foot from 1970s free-kicks by Teofilo Cubillas for Cuba against Scotland and Bayern Munich's Franz Beckenbaur against Duisburg to Ronaldinho's goal for Barcelona at Chelsea.

Then there's the assists - Luka Modric's pass to Rodrygo in last season's Champions League comeback against Chelsea was a memorable example.

Cancelo is now quickly putting together his own collection of outstanding contributions with the outside of his boot, particularly since his move from Juventus to City in 2019.

His assist to Haaland is the latest following a similarly brilliant pass to Raheem Sterling against Everton last season, but there's more to it than is simply style and showboating.

Some might see it portrays a lack of skill - a poor alternative due to a lack of ability to be able to use the weaker foot.

But it gives Cancelo the opportunity to go in different directions, curling the ball away with the outside of his boot or whipping it in with the instep as he often does - think Bernardo Silva's goal against Old Trafford last season when he crossed from a similar position.

The speed of thought can make it harder for opponents to defend. On Wednesday night, Dortmund's backline had successfully shackled Haaland for 84 minutes but perhaps it was the quick-thinking and quality of Cancelo's cross that caught them by surprise and why they lost him for a split second.

That ability is why the 28-year-old is even more effective playing on the left side of defence as he is on the right, and why he and Kyle Walker remain Pep Guardiola's first choice full-back options.

With the England international currently injured, the City boss could have switched Cancelo back to the right with more alternatives in Sergio Gomez, Josh Wilson-Esbrand or even Nathan Ake able to play on the left.

Instead, he played John Stones on the right believing that something would be lost from City's attack if he was to play on the other side.

Guardiola often overloads down the left side of attack with Cancelo and Jack Grealish working well in combination with quick, touch passing to clear a path through the opponents' defence while Riyad Mahrez plays high and wide on the other flank.

Dortmund matched them with numbers to frustrate City and it was only when Phil Foden and Bernardo brought a directness that they stretched the Bundesliga side.

"I love being involved in the attacking phase," Cancelo told Sky Sports last month. "In modern football, you cannot just be a defender. You have to contribute to the attack.

"I am comfortable bringing the ball to my team-mates in the final third so that they can show their talent and score goals."

Cancelo gave the opportunity for Haaland to show his talent against Dortmund. Or maybe the Norwegian simply put an exquisite finishing touches to his team-mate's creative magic.