By Andy Hampson, PA
The sensational Erling Haaland scored five as Manchester City ran riot to power into the Champions League quarter-finals with a 7-0 thrashing of RB Leipzig.
Haaland took his tally for the campaign to a staggering 39 from 36 appearances in a ruthless performance at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.
Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne also got on the scoresheet as City completed an 8-1 aggregate triumph over the German side but it was Haaland who took the plaudits – and had people reaching for the record books – on a wintry evening.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) March 14, 2023
By scoring his first two goals, the Norwegian became the youngest player to reach 30 goals in the Champions League aged 22 years and 236 days.
Yet he did not stop there, going on to become only the third player to score five in a single Champions League game and take his overall total in the competition to 33 in 25 games.
He is now also the most prolific scorer in a single season for City, beating the previous record of 38 set by Tommy Johnson in 1928-29.
City made light of the snow and sleet, setting their stall out early with Gundogan, Haaland and Jack Grealish all threatening in the opening stages.
It still took a couple of dubious decisions to help them establish an early stranglehold, but once they had control of the game the visitors wilted.
Their first stroke of luck came when they were awarded a contentious penalty after a VAR review.
We’ve lost the plot if that’s a pen
— Cesc Fàbregas Soler (@cesc4official) March 14, 2023
Referee Slavko Vincic was sent to the screen to check whether a Rodri header prior to a goalmouth scramble had clipped the back of Benjamin Henrichs’ arm at point-blank range.
The defender certainly knew little about it but Haaland did not pass up the opportunity offered to him from the spot as he fired City ahead after 22 minutes.
The Norwegian doubled the lead little over a minute later, typically finding himself in the right place at the right time to head home a rebound after a thunderous De Bruyne shot struck the bar.
He might have had his hat-trick moments after that but Janis Blaswich parried a ferocious drive.
Leipzig tried to battle back but City benefited from another controversial call after Ederson raced out of his area and appeared to bring down Konrad Laimer. The City keeper escaped punishment and, with that, Leipzig rarely threatened again.
Haaland claimed his treble on the stroke of half-time after a Ruben Dias header struck the post and rolled across the line. Amadou Haidara did get to it first but his attempted clearance cannoned off Haaland’s legs and into the net.
The scoreline became a rout four minutes into the second half when Gundogan beat a defender with a neat touch on the edge of the area and beat Blaswich with a low left-foot shot across goal.
Things almost immediately got even worse for Leipzig as Haaland claimed his fourth following a corner. There was some pinball in the area as Blaswich saved from Haaland and Manuel Akanji but City’s formidable number nine made no mistake at the second attempt.
It began to look like Haaland and City could score at will as he then made it 6-0 after 57 minutes.
Again Blaswich managed to keep out an initial effort from Akanji but Haaland, at his ruthless best, blasted back the rebound.
City went close again when substitute Riyad Mahrez forced Blaswich to save but the excitement began to subside after manager Pep Guardiola decided to take Haaland off just after the hour.
Naturally, he left the field to a huge ovation for his remarkable performance.
De Bruyne wrapped up the scoring in injury time with a superb strike from the edge of the area.