Pep Guardiola says Erling Haaland’s acrobatic winner against Borussia Dortmund evokes memories of the late great Johan Cruyff as the Manchester City striker continued his phenomenal goalscoring form for his new club.
Haaland scored his 13th goal in just nine appearances for City as they overturned Jude Bellingham’s opener to register a late win over the striker’s former club at the Etihad Stadium. John Stones equalized with a superb long-range strike before the Norway international launched in on a superb cross from João Cancelo to seal the victory in the 84th minute. For Guardiola, a disciple of Cruyff, the goal was comparable to that scored by the Dutch master.
The city manager said: “People who know me may know the influence Johan Cruyff has had on my life as a person, as an educator, as a mentor, as a coach and everything. .
“Years ago Johan Cruyff scored an amazing goal at the Camp Nou for Barcelona against Atlético Madrid similar to Haaland. The moment Erling scored I thought: ‘Johan Cruyff’. That was enough, quite similar.It was an incredible assist from João and Erling’s finishing was exceptional.
Guardiola also compared Haaland’s technique to his former Barcelona pet peeve, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He added: “I remember my dear friend Ibrahimovic had this ability to put his leg on the roof and Erling is quite similar in that.
“I think it’s his nature, he’s springy, he’s flexible, and after that he has the ability to make contact and put the ball in the net. I think his mum and dad give him that flexibility.
City struggled to break Dortmund down until the closing stages, when the introduction of Phil Foden, Bernardo Silva and Julián Álvarez brought about a big improvement in their attacking display. “It was quite similar to two years ago when we played them in the Champions League quarter-finals,” Guardiola said.
“We had a lot of trouble getting our rhythm and were so passive in our movements. We struggled. We played in the wrong equipment. When we realize that we are down 1-0 and have the dynamic of Phil, Bernardo and Julián, it gave us another rhythm. The Champions League does not wait and forgive you.
Haaland hugged almost every Dortmund player and their backroom team members after the final whistle. Asked about the quality of his former team-mates’ defense against him, the City striker replied: “They didn’t stop me. I scored.”