Haaland 'triggered' by World Cup absence after breaking Premier League record on Leeds return

By Sports Desk December 28, 2022

Erling Haaland said missing the World Cup "triggered" him after reaching 20 Premier League goals in record time during Manchester City's 3-1 win against his hometown club Leeds United. 

Haaland – who was born in Leeds when his father Alf-Inge represented the Yorkshire club – sat out the tournament in Qatar after Norway's failure to qualify.

The striker's place of birth provided the setting for his return to Premier League action on Wednesday, and he made it a memorable outing by tapping home City's second goal before beating Illan Meslier with a powerful finish.

Haaland's double took him to 20 goals in 14 Premier League appearances, meaning he required seven games fewer to reach the milestone than previous record holder Kevin Phillips.

Speaking to Amazon Prime Video after the game, Haaland said watching many of the world's top forwards making an impact in Qatar had irritated him during the international break.

Asked how he spent the World Cup, Haaland said: "Being home, being a bit mad that I didn't play the World Cup and was on my sofa. 

"I was kind of a commentator for the World Cup in my own home, where nobody listens to me!

"I recharged my batteries and to watch people score and win games at the World Cup triggered me and motivated me. It irritates me, as I just said. I'm more hungry than ever."

Haaland has now scored 26 times in all competitions for City, reaching 25 goals under Pep Guardiola in fewer games (20) than any other player during the coach's top-flight career.

But, showing his elite mentality, the 22-year-old was frustrated by his failure to add to his brace.

"I just said it inside, I could have scored five, it's the truth. But we won, that's the most important thing," Haaland said.

"We see Arsenal at the top now and we have to hunt them, so for the win, we are really happy.

"For me as a striker, I could have scored a couple more but that's life. What can I do? I have to practice more."

Haaland's double also saw him overtake his father's tally of 18 Premier League goals (in 181 appearances), and the significance of doing so at Elland Road was not lost on the striker.

"With my father and my mother over there, it's special. I'm happy today, it's a really special moment in my career," he said.

"When I was younger I had a jersey of [former Leeds and Norway midfielder] Eirik Bakke in my room, and also one of my father, so it's really weird. 

"Only in my craziest fantasy could I have thought of scoring at Elland Road for Manchester City against Leeds."

Asked whether he had set himself a target of scoring over 40 league goals this season, Haaland added: "I've got one, but I cannot tell you, you know this! No comment."

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