Manchester City’s presence in Europe has become a guaranteed outcome. Their recent win over Young Boys solidified their spot in the Champions League knockout stages for the 11th consecutive season and marked their 28th undefeated home game in the tournament.
Having Erling Haaland on his team is a valuable asset for Pep Guardiola. Haaland contributed significantly to City’s success, scoring two goals in the Champions League match and increasing his total to 39 goals in 34 games. He scored one goal from a penalty kick and another with a powerful shot into the top corner. The Young Boys defense was unable to stop the Norwegian striker during his time on the field, with the only interaction being when he was approached by opposing captain Mohamed Ali Camara for his jersey at halftime.
Many individuals wearing yellow and black may consider it a significant moment in their career to face off against the current champions of Europe. However, the event was not a competitive one. The closest Young Boys came to scoring a goal was when their supporters threw a smoke bomb onto the field near the six-yard box. They ended the match with no shots and one less player, making it a clear mismatch. One Swiss player who will likely not have positive memories of the game is midfielder Sandro Lauper. He conceded the penalty for Haaland’s first goal and received a second yellow card, resulting in his departure from the game in the 53rd minute.
If Manchester City wins their upcoming game against Leipzig, they will secure the top position. According to Guardiola, their work is not complete yet as it is important to finish first in order to have the advantage of playing the second leg at home in the last 16. Guardiola expressed his confidence in playing at home and commended his team for scoring two incredible goals, particularly the second and third ones.
Lauper was not at a disadvantage as City was unable to increase their number of goals, spending the last portion of the game maintaining possession. Despite having 11 players on the field, there was no possibility of a turnaround for Young Boys as they were unable to make a shot on or off target, clearly showing the contrast in skill levels.
Anthony Racioppi’s impressive goalline block and double save delayed City’s first goal until the 23rd minute, when Matheus Nunes was fouled by Lauper and City was awarded a penalty. Haaland confidently placed the ball on the spot and expertly sent the goalkeeper in the wrong direction, leaving no doubt about the ball’s destination.
Phil Foden impressed on the right side of the field, ultimately scoring a goal just before halftime. He received a pass from Jack Grealish, skillfully got past Ulisses Garcia, and scored in the far bottom corner for a well-deserved second goal. There were minimal nerves at the Etihad throughout the entire game and even the most pessimistic fans would have accepted the outcome as certain. Even Camara, who obtained a souvenir from Haaland, knew this. “I am a little surprised by that,” said Raphaël Wicky, head coach of Young Boys. “However, I do not believe it had any effect on the game or performance. I will speak with him about it and see what he has to say. Perhaps Haaland requested it.” Haaland did not receive a jersey in exchange.
The second goal from the striker was an uncommon occurrence, as it was scored from outside the box. This has only happened three times since he joined City. He received a pass from Rico Lewis, turned quickly, and fired a powerful shot from 20 yards that impressed both his fans and those watching from the sidelines.
Guardiola had a highly efficient night, as he wisely gave Rodri a break and gave Mateo Kovacic the opportunity to shine in the midfield. This resulted in a dominant performance, with Lewis and Nunes also making a strong impact. Additionally, Grealish was given the chance to play in a central position.
John Stones re-injured his hip during the game, resulting in his substitution. According to Guardiola, he will be out for a period of time. This is unfortunate for the team, as Stones is a dedicated player.
The journey to reclaim the trophy began in Istanbul in June, and although it was a long road, the first step towards a second attempt has been accomplished.