Erling Haaland extended his record in the competition to 39 goals in 34 games as Manchester City advanced to the knockout round with a 3-0 win against Young Boys on Tuesday.
Haaland scored twice, including a brilliant long-range effort in the second half, to move him to within two of City great Sergio Aguero’s total of 41.
It seems inevitable he will one day challenge Cristiano Ronaldo’s record of 140 Champions League goals. And after losing out to Lionel Messi in the battle for the Ballon d’Or last week, he will likely be back in contention for football’s biggest individual prize next year if he continues his scoring streak.
“If he, with his mates, win a lot of trophies, there will be chance to win it,” City manager Pep Guardiola said. “If not, we won’t do anything.”
City’s defense of the Champions League is going smoothly. Guardiola’s team extended its perfect record after four games in Group G and also extended its unbeaten home run in the competition to 28.
Haaland opened the scoring at Etihad Stadium with a 23rd minute penalty and Phil Foden made it 2-0 in first-half stoppage time.
Haaland then fired into the top corner from the edge of the area six minutes after the break — but was denied a hat trick when he was substituted in the 61st.
By then there was little doubt that City was on course for a 23rd straight home win in all competitions in a game that saw Young Boys reduced to 10 men when Sandro Lauper was sent off for high foot on City substitute Nathan Ake in the 53rd.
After Matheus Nunes was brought down in the area by Lauper in the first half, Haaland stepped up and sent goalkeeper Anthony Racioppi the wrong way by firing into the bottom left hand corner.
On Foden’s goal, the forward received a pass from Jack Grealish on the right and then showed quick feet to beat Ulisses Garcia inside the area. He still had a tight angle to shoot from, but swept the ball past Racioppi and into the far corner.
“Of course we are incredibly happy to have qualified with two games left. Finish first. We have time to think about it,” Guardiola said. “The word that defines this group of players for many years is the consistency. We have high standards and that is why we are still in the Premier League up there and qualified from the Champions League.”
City defender John Stones was substituted at halftime because of a muscle problem and could be out for a while,” Guardiola said.
“It is a pity, it is bad news for us. I don’t know how long (it will be).”
Leipzig reaches knockout stage with 2-1 win at Red Star Belgrade
German team Leipzig reached the knockout stage of the Champions League with a hard-fought 2-1 win at Red Star Belgrade on Tuesday.
Goals in either half from Xavi Simons and Loïs Openda ensured back-to-back victories for Leipzig over the Serbian champion, giving it nine points in Group G, three behind Manchester City.
Both Red Star and Young Boys have one point and can no longer finish among the top two .
Leipzig pressured Red Star from the start with Benjamin Sesko, Openda and Xavi all running at the home team’s defense.
Xavi produced a moment of individual brilliance to open the scoring in the eighth minute, when he ran past one defender and curled an unstoppable shot inside the far post.
It was the 20-year-old Dutch player’s second Champions League goal.
Red Star coaching team member Nikola Todoric was sent off midway through the half after a verbal altercation with Openda.
Leipzig maintained its pressure and had 17 first-half efforts at goal – albeit only one of them on target.
“We should have scored more goals,” Leipzig midfielder Emil Forsberg said.
Openda should have made it 2-0 before the break, but goalkeeper Omri Glazer got down well to grab the ball and thwart the Belgian attacker, before Osman Bukari had the home team’s best chance saved by Janis Blaswich at the other end.
The home fans whistled their team at the interval.
Though Sesko hit the post for Leipzig, Red Star was much improved for the second half and Blaswich had to react again to deny substitutes Peter Olayinka and then Cherif Ndiaye.
Xaver Schlager then sent Openda through to score on a counterattack in the 77th.
The home team scored four minutes later when Leipzig defender Benjamin Henrichs got the final touch to Guélor Kanga’s cross, but Blaswich produced another save in a tense finale to preserve Leipzig’s win.
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