Manchester City made it to their 3rd straight Champions League semi-final last night, as they held onto a 1-1 draw against Bayern Munich to clinch the tie 4-1 on aggregate.
Pep Guardiola initially trumped tactical rival Thomas Tuchel during the home leg at the Etihad, with City picking a decisive 3-0 victory in the first leg.
For the second leg, the Citizens travelled to the awe-inspiring Allianz Arena for what was certain to be an intense European night.
As expected, the Bavarians were sharper, hungrier and more dominant throughout the 90th, and the home side were committed to producing a comeback.
City were forced to give up possession as a result, with Pep Guardiola’s side opting for a more pragmatic style which entailed defending their box diligently against waves of Bayern attacks.
Despite the drastic switch, City held firm, further highlighting their progression into a side that looks destined to win the Champions League this season.
And while the game may have played out differently, the difference-maker remained the same.
As he did during the first leg, Erling Haaland popped up with a crucial goal once again, even on a night when he wasn’t at his very best.
After an uncharacteristic penalty miss during the first half, the 22-year-old snapped back into his element during the second.
He scored City’s only goal of the night through an all-action effort, beginning with him winning an aerial duel and heading the ball into Kevin De Bryune’s path.
The Norwegian then proceeded to gallop forward in anticipation of the Belgian’s pass, and once it came, he made absolutely no mistake with the finish.
The goal took his insane tally for the season to 48 in 41 games, and it further proved all Haaland requires is a single moment to stamp his authority on any game.
His teammate Bernardo Silva also holds a similar opinion, as he went on to praise the Norweigan’s ‘special’ attributes during his post-match press conference.
Upon being asked if Haaland’s presence has allowed the team to be comfortable during intense phases, Silva said
Maybe yes, because we never had that kind of player. Even when Kun (Aguero) was here, he was a striker that dropped to play with us.
Erling is a special player, a different player than what we had in the past. He’s someone that doesn’t need many touches of the ball to score.
He’s like a shadow for 85 minutes and then he touches once and it’s a goal. So yeah, because we have that special player now, maybe sometimes we feel a bit more comfortable defending a bit more back.
Because when they (opposition) give us space in behind, we know we have that animal running in the back.
As stated by the midfielder, Haaland isn’t a player of many touches, but the killer instinct he possesses completely negates the value of taking too many touches. The Norwegian’s profile is ridiculously special, and based on what we’ve seen this season, his ceiling remains astonishingly high.