Man City 3-2 RB Leipzig: Champions come from two down to win Group G


Manchester City – for whom Erling Haaland scored his 40th Champions League goal – will play the second leg of their last-16 tie at home after winning their group

Erling Haaland obliterated a Champions League goalscoring record at Etihad Stadium as Manchester City fought back from two goals down to complete a thrilling victory against RB Leipzig.

The Norway forward is the quickest player ever to score 40 goals in the competition – reaching the milestone in just 35 matches, 10 fewer than Ruud van Nistelrooy, the previous record holder.

His goal also sparked a comeback win that ensured City, already through to the last 16, secured top spot in Group G with a game to spare.

For an uncomfortable 40 minutes, it looked as though their proud 28-match unbeaten home European record was about to come to an end.

But the second-half introductions of Julian Alvarez and Jeremy Doku transformed City.

Within seconds, Alvarez had sent Haaland through to half the deficit – and with Doku’s running unbalancing the Leipzig defence, Phil Foden took advantage of the space he found after collecting Josko Gvardiol’s inside pass to level.

Three minutes from time, Alvarez completed the fightback, steadying himself eight yards out before delivering a precise finish to the corner after Foden had provided the cross.

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The defeat was tough on Belgian forward Lois Openda, who cost Leipzig a club record fee when he signed from Lens in July – one that could reach 45m euros (£38.95m).

And he showed his quality with an excellent first-half double that had raised hopes of a shock win for the visitors on the ground where they lost 7-0 in last season’s knockout phase.

Haaland’s great goalscoring feats continue

The first half must have brought back uncomfortable memories for Gvardiol. As the Croat recounted in the build-up to the game, he was part of the Leipzig squad beaten by seven goals in this stadium earlier this year in a one-sided last-16 game.

Having switched between the clubs for £77m in August, Gvardiol might have hoped for a happier experience this time.

And it was in the end – but only after a tough opening half. He was the man Openda stepped inside to drive his low shot past Stefan Ortega for Leipzig’s second, even if the blame belonged to Ruben Dias, who lunged into a tackle by the touchline on the halfway line to allow a clear run for the forward.

Close by, City manager Pep Guardiola waved his arms in that familiar dismissive fashion, which suggested he was not happy.

That reaction was similar to the one that had followed Openda’s opener. On that occasion, Manuel Akanji had tried to block the striker from reaching a bouncing ball on the halfway line. Although he succeeded in that mission, the Swiss defender did not think his opponent would simply spin away from him and on to the loose ball, which he tucked neatly into the corner.

Rico Lewis and Haaland both drove over from central positions before the break. Haaland’s thunderous effort in particular suggested he was not happy at the state of affairs.

It was not to last.

Instead, Haaland took his tally for the campaign in all competitions to 19. That means he now has 71 in less than a season and a half.

Once the Norwegian had scored, there was an inevitability about what was to come.

City will be sure of playing their second leg at home when the draw for the last 16 is made next month and few will argue against their chances of becoming the first English side since Nottingham Forest in 1980 to successfully defend what used to be known as the European Cup.

Colin Bell ‘would have been proud’ of statue

The thrilling manner of the victory was appropriate given it coincided with City unveiling a statute outside the stadium in honour of three of their greatest past players: Colin Bell, Francis Lee and Mike Summerbee.

A video montage was played before kick-off in tribute to City’s ‘Holy Trinity’.

Sadly, only Summerbee is still with us, although Bell’s son, Jon, paid eloquent tribute to what the statue would have meant to his dad.

“I wish he was here to see it,” he said. “I think he would be slightly embarrassed by it but deep down, I am sure he would have been extremely proud.

“It invites a new generation of supporters to ask questions about that era and the legacy of the football club. The great success we are having now is built on that history and fanbase and these three players and the ones who came before them.

“It is great to see where we are. I enjoyed coming here with my dad towards the end of his life. He was a supporter first and foremost and loved watching the team of today.”

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