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‘He’s got every defender on the ropes’ – Ferdinand full of praise for Haaland

‘He’s got every defender on the ropes’ – Ferdinand full of praise for Haaland

Yara El-Shaboury

Erling Haaland has defenders “on the ropes” before the first whistle is even blown, says Rio Ferdinand after the Norwegian scored five goals in Man City’s 7-0 win against RB Leipzig in the second leg of their last-16 tie in the UEFA Champions League.

Haaland has now scored 39 goals for Manchester City this season, a new club record for goals scored in a single campaign.

“What he’s doing right now, he’s got every single defender, before a ball is even kicked, on the ropes, thinking ‘Wow!’ They’re losing sleep the night before the game,” said Ferdinand as part of BT Sport’s post match reaction.

“They’re looking at him in the tunnel thinking, ‘He’s bigger than I actually imagined he’d be,’ and they’re getting in the game, thinking… ‘He’s actually faster than I thought he was.’ He’s got rockets in his boots.

“And he knows where the goal is… He’s a nightmare for the opposition.

We highlighted Gvardiol before [the match]. He has been very impressive and [wanted] by many teams. But I think Haaland’s gone home after [the first leg], and said: ‘I’m not having that again.’ He’s probably thought about it for a few days and said ‘I’m going to put him under it today.’ And he gave him an absolute roasting today.”

The BT Sport panel specifically highlighted Haaland’s second goal, with Joleon Lescott saying: “There are so many elements to this second goal. The press after scoring a penalty to put three or four players under pressure, to obviously get to the goalkeeper, to recognise the ball when [it’s cleared], to head it down to Kevin De Bruyne, and then to react so fast. For me, this is a remarkable goal.”

“Absolutely magnificent, that press from kick-off,” added Nedum Onuoha. “When you’ve just conceded, you want a bit of time to gather yourself, but before you know it, City put you under pressure.”

After the match, Haaland gave an interview to the panel, to which he admitted that he doesn’t need to think much when looking to score, and that he simply reacts in the moment.

“He obviously has something inside of him, a natural ability, that separates him from pretty much everyone,” said Lescott in response to Haaland’s comments.

“Because it’s not just a case of kicking it where the goalkeeper isn’t. It’s the case of understanding where this ball might drop. And for someone so young to have that, and to play the game with so much experience is unique.”

Ferdinand added: “What I love about his game is [that it’s] so simple. It’s so simplistic. He doesn’t overcomplicate things, you don’t see him in a game taking four, five, six touches. One or two touches, lay it off and spin behind. Old school traits that never get old, that defenders don’t like.”

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