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Pep hails Haaland’s determination | ‘Brilliant footballer and athlete’

Pep hails Haaland’s determination | ‘Brilliant footballer and athlete’

Pep Guardiola hailed the brilliant “footballer and athlete” Erling Haaland after he bounced back from missing a sitter to net the winning penalty required for Manchester City to overcome Crystal Palace.

City were toiling towards a wasteful evening at Selhurst Park for the best part of 80 minutes, which included Haaland spooning a close-range effort over the bar with the goal gaping, but their Norwegian striker struck home with 12 minutes left via a pressure penalty.

That took Haaland’s tally to 28 Premier League goals for the season and moved City to within two points of leaders Arsenal, who will have to respond with victory in their Super Sunday match at Fulham.

“One of the best things of knowing him well together is he can miss one chance and he won’t get depressed, or he’s not sad. And he’s positive – next one,” said Guardiola. “He knows he will have the chance and he’ll be there. That’s an incredible attribute as a football player and as an athlete.

Manchester City's Erling Haaland celebrates after scoring their first goal of the game

Haaland celebrates after scoring City’s goal

“Normally, in football, basketball or tennis, when you’re thinking of the action just passed or finished, you cannot be a good athlete. This guy has another one, another one.”

Haaland celebrated his penalty in emphatic fashion, running towards the corner with glee before being mobbed by all of his City team-mates, bar goalkeeper Ederson.

From the outside, it looked like a moment of redemption after missing his earlier chance – but Guardiola insists City’s star striker is always under those expectations.

“Of course he feels the pressure. It’s nice,” Guardiola added. “You have to feel it. If you don’t feel the pressure, you will be in the bar drinking something.

Manchester City's Erling Haaland, centre, reacts after missing a scoring chance during the English Premier League soccer match between Crystal Palace and Manchester City at Selhurst Park stadium, in London, Saturday, March 11, 2023. (AP Photo/David Cliff)

Haaland had earlier missed a great opportunity to take the lad on 28 minutes

“You have to cope and handle it. It’s the pressure of if we lose, we lose the Premier League. If we lose 2-0, we lose the Champions League. If we lose against Vinny [Kompany], then we lose the FA Cup. That is a good mentality, to drive you to be the best.

“He missed a penalty in the first half because the chances of him missing that over the penalty is more difficult. He enjoys it. The way he celebrates the goals, his goals shows how happy he is here and how happy we are with him.

“The personality as a young lad, to take the ball, to put it there not softly and score was great.”

Haaland’s zero-to-hero evening

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Haaland blazes over from close range

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Haaland slams home his penalty to give City a late lead

Sturridge: Haaland has zero fear, you can see it in his eyes

Former Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge on Sky Sports Premier League:

“His mentality is his strongest trait. He’s so confident in himself, when he misses a chance it affects him for maybe two or three seconds, and then he thinks, ‘Alright, I’ll get another one and put that away’.

“He makes chances look like food and drink, he makes it look so easy in front of goal. He does miss chances and that’s the life of a striker.

“With Man City and how much possession they have, he knows over the course of the game chances are going to come. He can’t get frustrated within himself and start doing different things because Pep has a way which he likes to play. He knows where he wants Haaland to be to occupy those defenders.

“It’s him continuing to put himself in positions to score vs missing one and being scared to go in there. He has zero fear, you can see it in his eyes.”

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