Haaland fittingly finishes off statement win for Man City and gets to taste victory over Bayern at last

By Sports Desk April 11, 2023

If you didn't see this coming, you can't have been paying attention.

Bayern Munich were bulldozed by a spectacular Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, a 3-0 dismissal of the 10-in-a-row Bundesliga winners a sign of the times.

It was a bad night for the men in red, a desperate one for Dayot Upamecano; a match to remember for City, and perhaps the moment the doom-mongers had seen coming.

How can this City team be stopped? They were terrific and dominant, save from a 20-minute spell at the start of the second half when Bayern gamely gave just about as good as they got.

A team into which mind-blowing sums have been invested were destined to scale heady heights such as these, though. The wealth of talent at Pep Guardiola's disposal is unsurpassed, the Abu Dhabi ownership having backed the manager to bring together an elite pool of players.

This is why some with a Bayern allegiance would like German football's tight ownership rules to be relaxed. For now, a tight rein on spending means Bayern cannot possibly compete in the transfer market with City.

Twenty-five years ago, City were hurtling towards relegation to England's third tier. Now they surely are everyone's Champions League favourites, ripe to be crowned kings of Europe for the first time with one foot in the semi-finals.

Erling Haaland's 45th goal of the season put the seal on this rout, leaving Bayern facing near-certain elimination in front of their own fans in next Wednesday's second leg.

Rodri's wonder strike had broken the deadlock, and Bernardo Silva hit the second to quell Bayern's brief resurgence.

Norwegian Haaland has managed the most competitive goals by a player for a Premier League club in a single season. And if you didn't see that coming, you can't have been paying attention. Deadly for Borussia Dortmund, Haaland was bound to score bucketloads in this City team.

Bayern, traditionally the club that scoop up the best talent from within the Bundesliga, had been powerless when the chequebooks came out for Haaland.

Haaland fancied this occasion early on and took aim from an outlandish angle, from an opportunity given a miniscule xG rating of 0.028. The wild slash with his left boot soared over the bar.

Jamal Musiala was denied by an outstanding block from Ruben Dias as Bayern carved out the best chance of the opening 25 minutes, but then £62.6million man Rodri rocked the Germans with his sensational finish.

The wickedly swerving strike with his left foot came from 25 yards, as Bayern waited for a pass from the player who had not scored in 43 previous Champions League appearances.

Former City winger Leroy Sane fired 18 inches wide from 30 yards to serve a reminder of Bayern's threat, but shooting from that range hinted at desperation.

By half-time, Rodri had passing accuracy of 90.3 per cent and had won six of his eight duels. He had also won possession on 10 occasions, more than anyone else on the pitch, while losing the ball just four times. Even setting aside the goal, he had been magnificent, and City's defending was terrific, with Ederson yet to make a save.

Sane drew a first save from Ederson in the first minute of the second half, and the Brazilian did not make a clean catch, rather juggling the ball. He made a better stop two minutes later, and again it was Sane with the strike after being played through by Musiala.

City could not take advantage of haphazard Bayern defending as Joshua Kimmich blocked Haaland's thumping shot, but that was a sign of trouble to come for Bayern.

Bayern brought on former Liverpool forward Sadio Mane in the 69th minute, but it was 2-0 seconds later, before Mane got to touch the ball.

Upamecano looked to step out of defence but hopelessly lost the ball to Jack Grealish, whose clever backheel played in Haaland. As Bayern braced for him to shoot, the Norwegian crossed instead and Bernardo Silva planted a powerful header through Yann Sommer's grasp.

Sommer saved from substitute Julian Alvarez as Bayern's defence was ripped open again, and the third goal arrived when World Cup winner Alvarez crossed from the right flank, £50million centre-back John Stones headed across goal from the far post, and Haaland, the most coveted player in Europe last summer, volleyed in calmly from a chance he was never going to miss.

Joao Cancelo, on loan to Bayern from City, was booed onto the pitch when he appeared as a substitute. Bayern don't think they have the funds to buy the City cast-off, which sums up the difference between these outfits.

City have won their last 11 home games against German sides in this competition by a 42-10 aggregate, and Haaland has 11 goals in seven Champions League games for City now.

It was entirely predictable he would get on the scoresheet at the Etihad Stadium, but here's a thing that changed for Haaland in this game: as well as taking his goals tally to six in eight appearances against Bayern, he finished on the winning side.

He had lost all seven games he played for Dortmund against Bayern.

Things change once you join City. This is a winning machine, a team on a nine-game streak now, and nights like this make you fear for Arsenal, sat increasingly precariously at the top of the Premier League. They make you fear the rest of Europe will be powerless to prevent a rhapsody in blue come the Champions League final in Istanbul, too.

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    Recalled Mustapha Bundu scored a 21st-minute winner with an angled strike after running onto a defence-splitting ball from Adam Forshaw.

    Home goalkeeper Michael Cooper made a string of stops as Leicester piled on the pressure but the hosts held on for maximum points as they moved to 16th and now sit five points clear of the bottom three.

    Dewsnip said: “We are absolutely delighted with the result. Made up but we know it’s not done yet. We still have a target and that is to stay in this league.

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    “Mustapha’s goal was absolutely terrific. He’s got that finish in him we see every week in training. It does fly over the railings one or two times but credit to him that was a really good goal.

    “The fans from the first minute to the last were just at it. I found myself clapping with them at one point.

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    “Thankfully tonight was our night not theirs. I am sure Leicester will have theirs in the future.

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    Leicester boss Enzo Maresca took the positives from their second-consecutive loss as they remain level on points with second-placed Ipswich, with Leeds a point further back ahead of their games on Saturday.

    He said: “It has been a tough week with two defeats in a row that we did not expect so we are upset.

    “The only good thing is that fortunately, it is still in our hands.

    “We need to take our chances and start to win games. We have four games to go, three of them at home, with our fans behind us, so hopefully we can finish well.

    “At the end – and I have said it many times – the problem is when you don’t create chances. That is when you have to be worried and find a different solution.

    “At this moment we are struggling to score. We created chances inside the six-yard box, from outside the box and we struggle.

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    Ricardo Pereira was next to test Cooper, following a defence-splitting one-two with Wilfred Ndidi. Again it was all diving Cooper could do to parry the ball away.

    Stephy Mavididi latched on to the aerial ball and headed it back across the goal, which resulted in a goalmouth scramble and Argyle eventually clearing the ball.

    Mavididi went close with a curling 13th-minute shot after being teed up by playmaker Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall on the edge of the box. The attacking midfielder’s shot beat Cooper for pace but flew just past the post.

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    Adam Forshaw intercepted a Leicester attack and released recalled striker Bundu with a superb, measured pass through the middle of the park.

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    Harry Winks fired wide from 20 yards as Argyle failed to clear their lines following another City corner with the half-hour mark approaching.

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    Central defender Dan Scarr did well to stoop and head a pacy Fatawu cross from the right away at the near post as Leicester continued to press or an equaliser.

    Fatawu’s next cross from the right – after 56 minutes – found striker Patson Daka and his deft near-post touch beat Cooper but spun past the far upright.

    Daka’s last action was firing wide when well placed at the far post after 67 minutes. He was replaced by former England international striker Jamie Vardy.

    With just over 15 minutes remaining, Wout Faes’ cross from the right was smashed towards goal by Mavididi but again, Cooper was equal to the effort.

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