Pep Guardiola joked he unseated Erling Haaland with a goal before a double hat-trick as Manchester City beat RB Leipzig 7-0 to ensure he has at least one goal left to pursue.
The Norwegian striker shattered records in a ruthless performance as he scored five goals in 35 minutes, becoming the youngest player to score 30 goals in the Champions League and fastest to do so, trailing only Lionel Messi and Luiz Adriano joined, who scored five goals in a single Champions League game.
Haaland completed his hat-trick in first-half injury time after two within two minutes mid-half, the first a controversial penalty, and then added two more in the 53rd and 57th minutes with Ilkay Gündogan and Kevin De Bruyne clinching the another as City won 8-1 on aggregate.
But Haaland was replaced by Julian Alvarez just after the hour mark and said afterwards: “I told him [Guardiola] If I’m substituted I’d like to score a double hat-trick – but what am I going to do!”
When asked why he made the move, Guardiola said: “When he hits that milestone at 22, 23, it gets boring, his life. Now he has a goal, that’s why I’m making the move.
“I didn’t know that about Messi against (Bayer) Leverkusen but usually when the game is over I want to let all the players play as much as possible.”
Goals have not been an issue since the day Haaland arrived in Manchester – with his performance on Tuesday taking him to 39 for the season and breaking Tommy Johnson’s club record for a single season – but debate over his overall contribution has continued regardless , as each touch count was analyzed .
“Today he scored five goals and I think he had 30-35 touches and that’s what we’re looking for,” said Guardiola. “When you’re involved in the game when it comes to scoring a goal, you’re more precise. It’s difficult to score if you don’t touch the ball for 40 minutes.
“Sometimes it’s his fault. Sometimes he doesn’t move – I said to him against Crystal Palace, ‘You didn’t play well today’ – but sometimes it’s our fault. We didn’t find him away from Leipzig in the second half. But we are working to speed up the process.”
City are now in the quarter-finals draw for the sixth straight season, a record unequaled by any other club, and Guardiola’s cheer was on full display when a question about the success was an unexpected lament about Julia Roberts’ fondness for Manchester United evoked.
“I’m a failure in the Champions League,” said Guardiola. “If I win the Champions League three times in a row, I will be a failure.
“I have three idols in my life. Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Julia Roberts. These are my three idols.
“Julia Roberts came to Manchester years ago – not in the 90s when Sir Alex (Ferguson) was winning titles and titles and titles. It came at the time when we were better than United, those four or five years, right?
“And she attended Man United. She didn’t come to us. So even if I win the Champions League, it won’t compare to the fact that Julia Roberts came to Manchester and didn’t come to see us.
“Even if I win the Champions League it will not compare to this disappointment I had.”