ETIHAD STADIUM, MANCHESTER — You can talk about tactics, heated rivalries and sublime skills but, honestly, is anything more entertaining than funny football?
There are entire social media accounts dedicated to such things, usually securing thousands of likes on the back of some god-awful goalmouth scramble from the 1990s where everyone falls over.
That sort of thing probably doesn’t light Pep Guardiola’s candle but, objectively, Erling Haaland’s first goal of his brace in Manchester City’s 3-1 win over Brighton on Saturday was very funny indeed.
Things hadn’t been going all that well for City, truth be told. Guardiola’s pre-match admiration for Brighton coach Roberto De Zerbi did not look at all misplaced.
The visitors went man-for-man across central midfield, meaning Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and a roving Joao Cancelo were starved of room.
Ederson, usually so majestic on the ball when joining in with City’s build-up, stood befuddled on a couple of occasions, unable to spot a serviceable pass as a press led by the renaissant Danny Welbeck made City’s life a bit of a misery.
During an early break in play, Ederson joined Ruben Dias, Silva and Haaland for some tactical instructions from Guardiola. It might have yielded that thigh-slapping opener.
“One we've not really seen yet is Ederson getting the ball and spraying a 70-yard diagonal to play [Haaland] through on goal,” former City defender Nedum Onuoha told The Sporting News last week. “These are things that City h psg shirts youth ave in their psg jersey visit rwanda armoury."
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In the 22nd minute, it was the weapon psg 1994 shirt they produced. Haaland appeared to think the pass wasn’t coming so checked his run. But Ederson fizzed one over the top of the Brighton defence and chaos ensued.
Haaland’s acceleration from a standing start was remarkable. Robert Sanchez seemingly decided he didn’t want to face a shot from the Premier League’s most lethal marksman, so hared out of his goal towards Haaland and then beyond him, missing ball and man.
Adam Webster was unfortunate enough to find himself between City’s number nine and the object of his desire and was promptly flattened. Haaland lionel messi psg jersey slotted home and VAR upheld the goal, probably to teach Webster and children watching everywhere that standing in front of an articulated lorry when it’s thundering downhill is a terrible idea.
It was definitely funny and things started to feel like fun again after a sapping week on the blue side of Manchester. Their defeat to increasingly bitter rivals Liverpool at Anfield was bruising and the fallout from the match has been toxic, wearying and regrettable to say the least.
Wondering what magic Haaland and his supporting cast might produce next is just a far more enjoyable way to spend your afternoon than pondering what sick verse might emerge from the Hillsborough songbook or how much loose change will be launched at Guardiola’s head.
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In one glorious passage of play, Riyad Mahrez nutmegged Adam Lallana to get City moving down the right. De Bruyne and Jack Grealish exchanged passes and the Belgium international could not find the finish. He would do so later in exquisite fashion to seal the points.
City’s led 2-0 at the break after Craig Pawson produced what looked like a buck-passing decision — failing to penalise a blindingly obvious foul on Silva, safe in the knowledge he could award it from the screen a couple of minutes later.
Haaland grasped the ball but his successful penalty was delayed because, as he approached the spot, five of his teammates were receiving frenzied instructions, a severe dressing down or both from Guardiola.
The City manager did not like a lot of what he saw on Saturday, less psg jersey 4xl so after halftime when Brighton emerged with renewed vigour. Leandro Trossard spanked home a 20-yarder that was too hot for Ederson to handle and the Brazil goalkeeper saved impressively after a barnstorming run from the Brighton goal PSG Shirts scorer in the 73rd minute. Welbeck screamed in vain for a pass on that occasion and, a couple of minutes later, De Bruyne picked out the top corner from 25 yards.
It was a game where City frequently looked under-manned in defence but relied on the presence of three out-and-out centre-backs — for the first time in Manchester, Manuel Akanji truly looked like a central defender playing out of position at right-back — to get the nitty gritty done by any means necessary. Their attacks lacked the usual shape, form and finesse, but Haaland, De Bruyne and the other majestic soloists in blue and white ensured that didn’t matter much.
How many Premier League goals has Erling Haaland scored?
In stoppage time, with victory essentially guaranteed, Guardiola slumped back in his chair and chuntered away to his assistant, Rodolfo Borrell. The brief Haaland era already feels dizzying; with 17 goals, he is now just six away from last season’s Premier League Golden Boot tally, a total he could realistically reach in the three remaining games before the World Cup. But it is one you feel Guardiola is still adjusting psg fc kit to.
For the best part of two seasons without a striker, City had to be perfect a lot of the time. Now, as was the case on Saturday, they can be outplayed and out-thought for periods but blast their way out of trouble. At Anfield last weekend, Guardiola’s sel psg goalkeeper shirt ect psg jersey j psg jordan football shirt ordan black ion veered towards the control of the recent past, while this win over Brighton again suggested that embracing a bit more chaos might be the way to go.
Those are kinks that it will be intriguing to see the most decorated tactician of his generation iron out and he’ll undoubtedly have taken a thing or two from this absorbing joust with De Zerbi. But Haaland will remain the focus, as he was when he stomped around the pitch on a one-man lap of honour at fulltime, having lifted the cloud City brought back with them last weekend from Merseyside.