Manchester City pulled off yet another remarkable comeback on Wednesday night, and yet again Erling Haaland was at the heart of the action.
Haaland produced a stunning acrobatic finish in scoring City’s second goal against Borussia Dortmund, securing a 2-1 win that put City three points clear at the top of their Champions League group.
For over an hour City were poor, Pep Guardiola’s players lacking their usual rhythm, creativity and intensity. Haaland can be included in that; while the 22-year-old didn’t do much wrong per se, City’s struggles prompted pundits and critics to once again start talking about how little Haaland touches the ball during games.
When City signed Haaland one of the concerns was how a player better known for finishing off moves would adapt to a team and system in which every player is expected to get involved in the build-up.
The topic rises to the surface whenever Haaland looks like he isn’t having a good game: the Community Shield defeat to Liverpool and the 4-0 win against Bournemouth – the only match he hasn’t scored in this season – for example.
But as Haaland explained after scoring the match-winner on Wednesday against his former club, those who criticise his lack of touches or on-the-ball involvement are missing the point.
“People maybe talk about that I don’t touch the ball enough, but I don’t care,” he told beIN SPORTS. “I know what I’m going to do, what I have to do, and this is exactly what I’ll keep doing. My dream is to touch the ball five times and score five goals. I’m living the dream, I’m happy, and more to come.”
One reason Haaland can afford to not touch the ball too much is that he is simply capable of things other strikers are not. Some of his skills and attributes have been learned, while others, he admitted, are pure genetics.
He added: “I think I have really long legs, that’s why I reached the ball… But it was a good cross [from Joao Cancelo], and in the end it was a really good goal, I have to say.”