Although some might have felt that Manchester City could face a potential Champions League banana skin on Tuesday night, Pep Guardiola’s side punched their quarter-final ticket with a remarkable 7-0 romp against RB Leipzig.
While the Premier League giants might have been forced to settle for a 1-1 draw in their first-leg showdown out in Germany on February 22nd, City certainly came flying out of the traps here.
With the record-breaking Erling Haaland bagging a stunning first-half hat-trick as Guardiola’s side cruised to a 3-0 lead at the interval, City really didn’t take their foot off of the accelerator.
With City’s latest attacking superstar then helping himself to another brace after returning from the half-time break, Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne also put the cherry on what was a famous performance.
Making what was a major statement that would have been witnessed from across Europe, Man City also demonstrated why they are seen as a leading contender to get their hands on a maiden Champions League crown.
Although Leipzig might have impressed many last month as they claimed a first-leg stalemate in Germany, the Bundesliga title contenders came crashing back down to earth here.
Completely outplayed on a night when Manchester City was at their scintillating best, what did we learn from Tuesday’s showdown at the Etihad?
2023 can be City’s year to claim a maiden Champions League crown
Although Manchester City might have been disappointed after leaving Germany without a first-leg advantage to their name, Guardiola’s men laid down a major Champions League marker here.
While the Sky Blues might have been left heartbroken out in Madrid last year as they suffered that remarkable semi-final departure at the hands of eventual winner Real Madrid, City are once again tipped as a standout contender in 2023.
With Guardiola now failing to lift Europe’s most coveted prize since his time at Barcelona back in 2011, the Premier League giants certainly sent out a real statement of intent on Tuesday night.
Eventually breezing their way past Leipzig and punching their quarter-final ticket without breaking much of a sweat, Guardiola will be calling on his superstar squad to use this performance as a platform to build on.
While City might still find themselves sat five points adrift of Arsenal in the race to defend their Premier League crown this season, Guardiola has made it clear that Champions League success is crucial.
Publically stating that his tenure at the Etihad would not be complete unless he is able to guide City to a maiden Champions League crown, this certainly feels like it could finally be their year.
Haaland can single-handedly drag City to European success
While Haaland might have endured a somewhat low-key start to 2023, the Norwegian superstar has only continued to break a string of records since arriving at Manchester City last summer.
Although there might have been some concerns earlier in the year that Guardiola was not getting the very best out of the ex-Borussia Dortmund striker, Haaland has underlined his position as one of Europe’s most clinical number nines.
Making more history at the Etihad on Tuesday night and bagging a remarkable first-half hat-trick, Haaland has now notched 32 strikes in just his 25 Champions League appearances.
Along with already recording five separate hat-tricks since arriving at the Etihad last summer, the 22-year-old also became both the fastest and youngest player in Champions League history to reach the 30-goal mark.
With the City hierarchy making it clear that Haaland was brought to Manchester in a bid to help the English champions get their hands on a maiden European crown, the 23-cap international undoubtedly has a crucial role to play.
Eventually ending Tuesday’s showdown at the Etihad with five goals to his name and taking the outright lead for the Golden Boot, he also became just the third player in Champions League history to do so.
Leipzig collapse under the bright lights
Putting in what was a hugely impressive second-half performance at the Red Bull Arena last month as they claimed a first-leg 1-1 draw, RB Leipzig had proven that they could cause City plenty of issues.
However, although Marco Rose’s side might have traveled to the Etihad on Tuesday night looking to spring what would have been a major Champions League upset, the German outfit will know that they face a real backlash when they return home.
Although the former Borussia Dortmund boss might have been able to call upon attacking talisman Christopher Nkunku here, that doesn’t excuse what was a remarkable capitulation on foreign soil.
Completely blown away in Manchester and eventually leaving with their heaviest-ever Champions League defeat, the Red Bulls will be glad to see the back of the Etihad.
Crashing out of this season’s Champions League under woeful circumstances, Leipzig were also hit with a 6-3 loss when they traveled to the Premier League heavyweights back in September 2021.
Although Leipzig might have shocked many as they punched their knockout stage ticket last year, Tuesday’s hammering at the Etihad will overshadow all their progress.
Manchester City: Ederson, Akanji, Dias, Ake, Stones, Rodri, Silva, De Bruyne, Gundogan, Grealish, Haaland
Subs: Alvarez, Mahrez, Gomez, Phillips, Foden
RB Leipzig: Blaswich, Henrichs, Orban, Gvardiol, Raum, Kampl, Haidara, Szoboszial, Forsberg, Laimer, Werner
Subs: Poulsen, Olmo, Silva, Klostermann, Simakan
Goals: Haaland (22′ (P), 24′, 45+2′, 53′, 57′), Gundogan (49′), De Bruyne (90+2′)
Yellow Cards: Manchester City: Akanji, De Bruyne – RB Leipzig: Werner, Henrichs
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: Slavko Vinčić