Pep Guardiola explains Erling Haaland substitution as Man City goal machine hunted double hat-trick
Pep Guardiola has explained his decision to substitute Erling Haaland as the superstar striker hunted a very rare double hat-trick for Manchester City.
The Norwegian was replaced by Julian Alvarez after 63 minutes of Tuesday night’s Champions League last-16 second-leg tie against RB Leipzig, having lit up the Etihad Stadium with five goals and attracted a standing ovation by equalling and then surpassing the club’s all-time scoring record in a single season, which had belonged to Tommy Johnson since 1929.
Haaland also became only the third player ever to net five times in the same game in Europe’s elite club competition, and the first in a knockout match since Lionel Messi did it for Barcelona against Bayer Leverkusen 11 years ago.
However, he was unable to achieve his double hat-trick as he was taken off with plenty of time to spare ahead of Saturday evening’s home FA Cup quarter-final tie against Championship leaders Burnley, a side managed by City legend Vincent Kompany.
Quizzed on the Haaland substitution during his post-match press conference, a playful Guardiola joked that now the player still has a target to work towards after firing City into the Champions League quarter-finals.
"If he achieved this milestone at 22, 23 years old, it will be boring, his life,” he said. “Now he has a target, that's why I make the substitution.
"I didn't know this about Messi against Leverkusen but normally when the game is over I want to let all the players play as much as possible."
Guardiola went on to describe the remarkable Haaland as a “gift” for City as he hailed his enormous talent and winning mentality.
“It was a really good performance from minute one until the end from everyone,” he said.
“We play very good with and without the ball. We scored a lot of goals. Erling was amazing but everyone was exceptional.
“Five [goals] in 60 minutes. Incredible guy, huge talent. Power, mentality, he’s a serial winner. Really good.”