Pep Guardiola had to justify replacing Erling Haaland - but RB Leipzig saved the Manchester City coach a possibly even worse shame after the Norwegian's record five-pack at 0: 7.
"In the end we lost face a bit here. That shouldn't be, the boys are far too good for that," said RB sports director Max Eberl after the crashing round of 16 in the premier class.
Haaland would have loved to break the record for most goals in a Champions League game, which he now shares with world champion Lionel Messi, among others. But Guardiola did not let the 22-year-old, who was overwhelmed with superlatives. "I know Leo scored five goals, I remember it clearly," said Guardiola, who was once Messi's coach at Barcelona.
"But it's incredible that he (Haaland) did it in 60 minutes, that's not the case with Leo. But Erling is very young and that must be an additional reason to break Leo's record," said the former Bavarian coach after the shockingly one-sided round of 16 second leg.
Focus now on game against Bochum
Eberl suffered the highest bankruptcy in Champions League history after the 1-1 draw in the first leg. After the more than controversial hand penalty and the first two goals, one could discuss whether the rules were right. "But if it's 7-0, we don't have to get upset about it," Eberl said.
The focus must now be on the league. "We have Bochum on Saturday, which will definitely be a different game. But that's in the clothes for now," said Eberl. Each individual must now ask themselves what they did wrong. "And then we also have to endure a bit of malice, but that's part of football. I actually like guys who get up again afterwards. We can prove that on Saturday."
Haaland also gave Guardiola a small rebuke when he was substituted in the 63rd minute, despite a warm hug. "I told him I would have liked to score a double hat-trick, but what should I do?" he said. Germany's record national player Lothar Matthäus criticized the early change on the Sky TV channel: "He could have done something historic. Haaland would have had half an hour for a sixth."
Media celebrate "Beast" Haaland
This chance will not come back for Haaland anytime soon. "Every Champions League game is difficult. That's why I'm so happy and super proud of the five goals," said a chilled but funny Haaland. The former BVB professional knew all about the record. He quickly replied that this feat had already been achieved by Messi, once in the 7-1 win against Bayer Leverkusen, and Luiz Adriano in the Shakhtar Donetsk shirt. But nobody made it at such a young age as he did. And none in just 35 minutes. So he grabbed the ball from the referee as a trophy for an unforgettable evening.
In the international media he was celebrated for his performance. The French sports newspaper "L'Équipe" dubbed him "ET - the extraterrestrial". The Spanish "Marca" headlined "And for the fifth, Pep changed him" and wrote: "What a beast". In England, the press celebrated with headlines like "Haal of Fame" or "Gimme five". Of course, Guardiola was also blown away by Haaland's force of nature on the lawn. "Erling was great, but everyone was exceptional," said the coach.
This probably also silenced the last critics in Manchester, who recently discussed the fact that City scored more goals without the Norwegian international. Even Leipzig coach Marco Rose was surprised as a former sponsor of Haaland in Salzburg and Dortmund. "Well, if you don't want to, send him to me, I'll take him," said Rose, who had warned of the exceptional striker's power before the game: "You can't completely ignore him."
Even Leipzig's Mister Champions League, Emil Forsberg, had to acknowledge that without envy. "He's really good in front of goal, no matter what, he's always there. He has the feel and feeling of where the ball is going." RB defense chief Willi Orban said: "He was always there where the ball fell, so you kind of have to congratulate him that the law of attraction was on his side today. The boy is a special guy."