Manchester City

Manchester City

Premier League • England

Guardiola gives true reasoning behind Erling Haaland substitution as Man City icon’s theory comes true

Erling Haaland

Erling Haaland scored twice for Manchester City on Saturday to match the record for the most goals scored by a single player in a 38-game Premier League season – but only lasted for half of their win over Leicester.

Man City went 3-0 up by half time against Leicester after an opener by John Stones and a double by Haaland. After opening his tally for the day with a penalty, Haaland scored his 32nd league goal of the season in the 25th minute.

But after equalling a competition record, Haaland didn’t get the chance to complete a hat-trick. Instead, Pep Guardiola took him off at half time, sending on Julian Alvarez in his place.

Man City failed to score again after the break, eventually seeing their lead reduced when their ex-striker Kelechi Iheanacho scored a consolation for Leicester.

Haaland has scored braces in each of his past two appearances in the Premier League, but also was denied the chance for a hat-trick against Southampton.

Explaining what makes him dangerous, former Man City defender Kolo Toure pointed to his power and movement.

Toure told Sky Sports: “For me, when I look at him, he’s strong, powerful. Technically he’s not unbelievable. You can see his feet are not amazing.

“But what he does is make sure that when he’s in the box, he always gets to the right position. He’s very aggressive in the box.

“He makes double movements in the run. He just fakes to go in front, he goes back. He fakes you to go at the back and he goes at the front. He’s very aggressive in the box.”

Asked if Guardiola might have taken him off to retain some hunger within Haaland, Toure replied: “Absolutely. Pep is a really clever manager. He knows how to get the best from players.

“Right now he knows Haaland is in top form. He just needs to keep him hungry. But most important for him is to make sure he doesn’t get an injury, because he’s a key player. If he gets an injury, it can be damaging for Man City, definitely.”

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Guardiola opens up on Erling Haaland change

And in his post-match interview, Guardiola confirmed his decision to withdraw Haaland was to avoid the risk of injuring him after all.

Guardiola told Match of the Day: “At the end [it was uncomfortable]. That normally happens when you make a lot of substitutions. We should avoid it.

“But sometimes it happens and it is important we started really well after the Champions League. We made subs to make players rest but we lost some control, though in general it was a deserved victory.

“We start the game to win the game. The game is never done until it’s done. But after 3-0, and especially with the control and Erling Haaland played all 90 minutes against Bayern Munich and it was so difficult, we have to think about injuries.

“We are lucky after the Bayern Munich game we play at home not away. You saw how focused we were.”

Man City earned a 3-0 advantage from the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich in midweek, with Haaland getting a goal and an assist. The return leg will be their next fixture on Wednesday.