SEVILLE, Spain — Erling Haaland scored twice as Man City opened their road to the Champions League title with a comfortable 4-0 win away from home at struggling LaLiga side Sevilla on Tuesday night.
– Report: Sevilla 0-4 Man City | Premier League table | Upcoming fixtures
The tallies make Haaland the youngest ever player to reach 25 goals in the Champions League as Man City ran up the score in the second half, with Phil Foden scoring between the Norwegian international’s strikes and defender Ruben Dias adding a fourth deep in second-half injury mine.
JUMP TO: Player ratings | Best/worst performers | Highlights and notable moments | Post-match quotes | Key stats | Upcoming fixtures
1. Manchester City up and running in the Champions League
Pep Guardiola joked in his news conference Monday that whenever Manchester City begins a new Champions League campaign, the first question is always about when they’re going to win it. He knows, though, that these questions will keep coming until he gets his hands on the trophy, but a dominant 4-0 win over Sevilla — inspired by another two goals from Erling Haaland and one each from Phil Foden and Ruben Dias — will offer encouragement that this could be his year.
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Sevilla, who have lost five straight games including going winless to open the LaLiga season, picked two 20-year-olds in central defense (Jose Angel Carmona and Tanguy Nianzou) and had no answer to Haaland — particularly his movement in the penalty area — and from the moment he scored his first of the night after 20 minutes, Man City were in complete control.
This should, on paper at least, have been their hardest away game in Group G, but the way they cruised to victory without getting out of second gear means they should qualify for the knockouts with no problem at all. It’s there that City’s success in this season’s competition will be determined, but Guardiola couldn’t have asked for a better start.
Guardiola’s team have reached a final and a semifinal in the past two years and this time, they’ve got Haaland.
2. Sevilla sick of the sight of Haaland
When Haaland’s name was read out at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium, it was greeted with huge jeers from the home supporters and you can understand why. Playing for Borussia Dortmund in the last-16 in 2021, he almost singlehandedly knocked Sevilla out with four goals in two games as the Bundesliga side won 5-4 on aggregate. He scored twice in the first leg in Spain and on his return with Man City scored another two goals Tuesday night.
Aside from all Haaland’s physical attributes, his ability to find space in the penalty area is perhaps his most dangerous weapon and twice he found himself in a position to tap in from close range with a one-touch finish.
– O’Hanlon: Ranking the Champions League field from 32 to 1 (E+)
Haaland has now got 12 goals in seven games since joining City, while his overall record in the Champions League reads 25 goals in just 20 appearances in the competition. To put it into context, Lionel Messi had eight goals after his first 20 Champions League games, while Cristiano Ronaldo had not scored at all. Oh, and Haaland has also scored in each of his past five games, which is bad news for Tottenham, who visit the Etihad Stadium on Saturday in the Premier League.
One of the best strikers in the world in top form is a terrifying combination — as Sevilla found out to their cost again.
3. Defeat pushes Julen Lopetegui closer to the brink
All the talk around Seville, from fans to waiters and taxi drivers, is that Julen Lopetegui’s days as manager might be numbered. Sevilla have started LaLiga with one point from their first four games and sit 17th in the table; even though very few people around the city expected them to beat Man City, the result will do nothing for Lopetegui’s hopes of keeping his job.
The 56-year-old has guided Sevilla to three successive fourth-place finishes in Spain and lifted the Europa League trophy in 2020, but there is a growing feeling that a change could be coming. Lopetegui has done such an impressive job that he was in the conversation to become the next Manchester United manager before they eventually settled on Erik ten Hag, and he should have no problem at all finding work if and when his time at Sevilla comes to an end .
It’s unlikely that defeat to Man City, one of the best teams in the world, will spell the end for the former Spain boss, but he will be expected to show some signs of improvement in games against Espanyol — a couple of places above Sevilla in 15th — and FC Copenhagen over the next seven days.
Sevilla (4-2-3-1): Bonus 6; Jesus Navas 6, Jesus Carmona 5, Tanguy Nianzou 5, Marcos Acuna 6; Nemanja Gudelj 6, Thomas Delaney 5; Papu Gomez 5, Ivan Rakitic 4, Alex Telles 5; Isco 5.
Subs: Joan Jordan 5, Rafa Mir 5, Kasper Dolberg 6, Suso 6, Adnan Januzaj 6.
Manchester City (4-3-3): Ederson 7; Joao Cancelo 7, Manuel Akanji 7, Ruben Dias 7, Sergio Gomez 7; Kevin De Bruyne 8, Rodri 7, Bernardo Silva 7; Phil Foden 8, Erling Haaland 8, Jack Grealish 7.
Subs: Ilkay Gundogan 7, Julian Alvarez 6, Cole Palmer 6, Riyad Mahrez 6, Kalvin Phillips 6.
Best and worst performers
BEST: Erling Haaland, Man City
De Bruyne and Foden both had impressive performances, but Haaland is the man of the moment and continued his incredible form since joining Man City in the summer.
WORST: Ivan Rakitic, Sevilla
The former Barcelona midfielder had barely any impact on the game in the first half and was substituted after 45 minutes, during which he had just 20 touches and completed barely 60% of his passes.
Highlights and notable moments
The man of the match was in typically understated mood after adding two goals to his season tally Tuesday night…
— Erling Haaland (@ErlingHaaland) September 6, 2022
And the official Champions League/UEFA account couldn’t help but point out how a new dominant force is emerging in Europe’s top club competition.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) September 6, 2022
After the match: What the players, managers said
“The first away game is very important. You have to set a tone and I think we did that today. Obviously it was a good performance, a good victory and it is nice to start it that way.” — Kevin De Bruyne, Man City midfielder
“We made not a good first half: we wanted to attack too quickly. When they were playing better we scored the second one with a brilliant action from Phil. Then after it was easier. We gave more passes. Sometimes we want to rush so quick because Erling is there. You have this attraction of him, we want to attack it sometimes. We have to be more patient.” — Man City manager Pep Guardiola
“The way he has adapted to us is really good, but I think outside the scoring there is another part in the game and I think that part is maybe more tough to adapt to. But it makes it more exciting that if he can adjust to the way we play, then the level is going to go up and that is what we demand from him. If you score that much you can get away with a little bit more but he knows, and we know, we can still do better. “ — De Bruyne on Haaland
Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)
– Erling Haaland (MCI): 2 goals (20′, 67′), 9th career Champions League multigoal game; tied with Robert Lewandowski for most since UCL debut during the 2019-20 season. It was also his third multigoal game in the 3rd UCL game against Sevilla
– Haaland (MCI): At 22 years, 47 days, he becomes the youngest player to score 25 career UCL goals, breaking Kylian Mbappé’s record (22y-80d)
– Haaland (MCI): 25 career UCL goals in 20 games, fastest player to 25 goals in UCL history
– Haaland (MCI): 4th player in UCL history to score in first appearance for 3 different clubs (RB Salzburg, Borussia Dortmund, Man City) after Fernando Morientes, Javier Saviola, and Zlatan Ibrahimović
– Phil Foden (MCI): 10th career UCL goal; 2nd-most among an English player age 22 or younger (Wayne Rooney, 13)
– Kevin De Bruyne (MCI): 5 assists in 7 games this season in all comps.
– Man City: 4th straight UCL season opening win since 2019-20 season, 2nd clean sheet during that span
– Man City: 7-game unbeaten streak to start the season in all comps (5 wins, 2 draws); outscored opponents 24-6 and recorded 4 clean sheets during the span
– Sevilla: 9-game winless streak in all competitions since April of 2021-22 season
Seville: Where will the struggling side get their first win of the season? After an expectedly crushing defeat Tuesday, they have little time to regroup before facing Espanyol away in LaLiga (Saturday, E+) and then traveling to FC Copenhagen for Champions League matchday 2 (Sept. 14), in which anything less than victory could spell doom for Lopetegui.
Manchester City: It’s onward and upward for Guardiola, Haaland & Co. on all fronts as they host the always dangerous Tottenham in the Premier League on Saturday, with Antonio Conte’s side having the measure of them in recent meetings. Then next week, they host Haaland’s former club, Borussia Dortmund, in Champions League matchday 2 (Sept. 14) with every expectation of picking up another three points.