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E. Haaland

Haaland's smashing start to the Champions League

10:11 AM EDT 10/11/22
Erling Haaland Man City 2022-23
The Manchester City striker has been a revelation both domestically and in Europe - can anyone stop him?

Just as he has lit up the Premier League since joining Manchester City, Erling Haaland is off to a stunning start in the Champions League this season.

The 22-year-old striker is the competition’s top scorer after three matches in the group stage, with five goals to his name already.

It is no surprise to see him score at a rate of more than a goal per game in Europe’s most prestigious club competition given he has been finding the net with ease in the English top-flight, too.

Partnered with Heineken's Fresher Football, GOAL profiles the striker’s form in the Champions League.

Of course, Haaland’s immense goal scoring ability was never in doubt following his magnificent stint at Borussia Dortmund, but the extent of the Norway international’s instant impact at City has been remarkable.

He needed no time at all to adapt to his new surroundings and helped City to an impressive 4-0 win against Sevilla in their opening game.

It was Haaland who broke the deadlock against the Spanish side when he flew towards the back post to meet a cross from Kevin De Bruyne. He then snuck into space in the Sevilla box to latch onto a loose ball and fire in his team’s third goal of the game.

The attacker then upset his former team Dortmund by firing in the winning goal, getting his foot high to divert a diagonal cross past goalkeeper Alexander Meyer to make it 2-1 to the English champions.

Fresh off of his hat-trick display in the 6-3 demolition of Manchester United in the league, Haaland was on fire once again when Pep Guardiola’s team pulverised Copenhagen at the Etihad Stadium.

He was in plenty of space in the middle of the box and ready to pounce as the ball came his way and he fired in the game’s first goal after just seven minutes.

Then, 25 minutes later he was perfectly placed to smash in from close range after goalkeeper Kamil Grabara could only parry a shot away and knock it into his path.

Key to Haaland’s great impact has been the quality of players around him. With De Bruyne, Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez and Jack Grealish surrounding him, he has incredible service coming his way.

But the former Red Bull Salzburg star’s incredible positioning allows him to capitalise on the great work of his team-mates.

The way he drifts into space behind defenders as City attack allows him to always be available as a target for crosses and through balls, while his reaction speeds make him the first to every loose ball inside the box.

“He has an incredible sense as a striker he goes one second before the ball arrives,” Guardiola said after the win against Copenhagen. “These types of players, how can a manager teach him? It is impossible. He is a natural. He did it in Norway, Austria, he smells it. Thank you for choosing us [Haaland] we are fortunate to have this talent.”

He added: “The connection with Kevin, Phil, Riyad, Jack. Erling, when he has the ball he knows what passes I like. He can improve every part of his game. Everyone knows he can do better. We can all improve until we die.”

The Norwegian has been electrifying, but he has some competition for the top spot in the Champions League goal charts.

Leroy Sane has already struck four times in the competition, having scored in all three matches. He helped Bayern Munich to wins against Inter, Barcelona and Viktoria Plzen.

Haaland’s former Dortmund team-mate Jude Bellingham has impressed, too, with three goals from as many games, while Napoli star Giacomo Raspadori has been excellent for the high-flying Italian side who demolished Liverpool, Ajax and Rangers.