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Haaland hits 45 as Man. City demolish Bayern

Manchester City striker Erling Haaland (right) celebrates with Bernardo Silva after scoring against Bayern Munich. Photo: Paul Ellis/AFP

Erling Haaland scored his 45th goal of the season as Manchester City took a commanding 3-0 first leg lead over Bayern Munich in their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday.

Rodri and Bernardo Silva were also on target for the English champions, who took a giant stride towards finally conquering Europe for the first time.

Bayern boss Thomas Tuchel got the better of Guardiola and City when Chelsea manager in the 2021 final.

But in 11 meetings between the two coaches, Guardiola has still only lost three times and got the better of his German counterpart in a heavyweight clash between two of the favourites to win the competition.

Guardiola has been regularly criticised for overly tinkering with his side when it comes to the crunch in the Champions League knockout stages.

But it was Tuchel who made some bold calls with his team selection as Thomas Mueller and Sadio Mane were left on the bench, alongside Joao Cancelo on his return to the Etihad after joining Bayern on loan in January.

City fought off interest from Bayern among other European giants to win the race to sign Erling Haaland a year ago for nights like this.

The 22-year-old duly delivered in the end but uncharacteristically fluffed his lines with the first big chance of the game when his weak shot was straight at Yann Sommer.

At the other end, City were grateful to a brilliant block from Ruben Dias to prevent Jamal Musiala putting Bayern in front.

Rodri then showed the forwards how it is done as the Spaniard took aim from long range on his weaker left foot and curled a sumptuous shot into the top corner.

Bayern picked up Sommer in the January window as an emergency measure after Manuel Neuer’s season was ended by a skiing accident.

The Swiss international proved the value of that move with a number of vital saves to keep Bayern in the tie, starting with an outstretched leg to deny Ilkay Gundogan.

Leroy Sane was also returning to the Etihad after four years at City and three times the Bayern winger came close to haunting his former club either side of half-time.

Sane flashed a shot wide from distance before the break and was denied by two big saves from Ederson early in the second half.

Bayern were made to regret not making their bright start to the second period count as Matthijs de Ligt and Kingsley Coman had headers from close range blocked by desperate City defending.

Instead, City turned the screw in the final quarter to take a potentially decisive lead to Bavaria next week.

Haaland showed there is more to his game than goals with a perfectly weighted cross for Silva to head in City’s second 20 minutes from time.

Sommer then produced a fine stop low to his left to turn Julian Alvarez’s shot to safety.

But City were not to be denied their third and Haaland his goal as the Norwegian stretched out a telescopic leg to turn John Stones’ knockdown beyond Sommer.

Alvarez fired another effort inches wide and Sommer needed finger tips to turn over Rodri’s header as City went in search of a final flourish.

But Bayern will need one of the Champions League’s all-time great comebacks in eight days’ time if City are to be denied a third consecutive semi-final.

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