After hammering Manchester United at the weekend, Manchester City showed no signs of letting up in front of goal as the thumped FC Copenhagen in their Champions League group match. Two goals by Erling Haaland were added to by an own goal from David Khochlava in the first half. Haaland was replaced by Cole Palmer at half-time and City scored further goals through a Riyad Mahrez penalty and a strike from Julian Alvarez.
Haaland will once again get all the plaudits after bagging his 18th and 19th goals for City with just 12 matches played, already justifying his bargain £51m price tag. But the blues could have ended with more goals with or without the Norwegian star, but were continually denied by visiting keeper Kamil Grabara.
But it was another effective and dominant team performance, which provided zero theatrics after allowing United to get two undeserved goals at the weekend, which, in all honesty, flattered the reds, who should really have gone back to Stretford with just the one goal and no points, almost the same number as visiting supporters at half-time.
City had won their opening two fixtures and a double victory from back-to-back matches against the Danish champions would see them ease into the last 16 with two games remaining. As usual, they did it with aplomb, as they invariably do at the group stage.
It took City and Haaland just seven minutes to get on the scoresheet, with Joao Cancelo being the provider. Sporting the number seven shirt that made David Silva a hero at the Etihad Stadium, Cancelo has continually proved himself of being El Mago’s worthy shirt successor.
Ilkay Gundogan found the Portuguese defender in acres of space on the right-hand side, and the visiting defence seemed reluctant to get anywhere near him. Cancelo spotted Haaland in space inside the penalty area, and picked him out with the perfect pass between two defenders. The Norwegian adjusted himself before firing a vicious shot into the side of the goal with his weaker right foot.
It’s becoming an expectation to see the man on the scoresheet, and it makes you wonder exactly what Bournemouth did to prevent him from scoring on his home debut.
City continued to press the visitors and keep them in their own half. Such was City’s dominance that Ederson had to keep himself entertained alone in City’s half of the field. It was surprising the blues took so long to make it 2-0, but when they did, it was the Nordic meat shield that was in the right place at the right time.
A City corner was headed away but only as far as Sergio Gomez. The City new boy hit a powerful shot that was parried by the keeper and, with Copenhagen appealing in vain for offside, Haaland was there once again to tap home his 28th Champions League goal in just 22 appearances. The striker now leads the Champions League top scorer chart with five so far this season, while Cancelo tops the assist chart with four.
If handling Haaland was getting to be too much, Grabara also had to contend with his players trying to outdo the City man. Jack Grealish, who made another outstanding performance after helping to destroy United on Sunday, waltzed into the area and laid the ball of for Gomez to fire another shot towards goal. With Haaland waiting, Khocholava turned the ball past his own keeper to prevent Haaland’s fourth hat-trick of the season.
With the points pretty much secured, manager Pep Guardiola replaced Haaland at half-time, but it didn’t stop the blues from continuing their rich scoring vein. Ten minutes into the second half, Aymeric Laporte was brought down in the area and City were gifted the opportunity to make it 4-0 from the penalty spot. Mahrez stepped up to send the keeper the wrong way to score City’s tenth Champions League goal of the season.
And, with 14 minutes remaining, City completed the scoring with a great team goal, inspired by a charging run by Grealish. The England man picked up the ball in his own half and stormed forward, before playing in Mahrez. The Algerian winger skipped past a half-hearted challenge and rolled the ball across goal where Alvarez was waiting unmarked to tap home number five.
It was a one-sided performance by the blues and, with the return leg next Tuesday, they should be able to secure qualification to the knock-out stage.
Next up for City is a visit from Southampton, the team that denied the blues twice last season, and the faithful will be hoping for more goals from their team.
Final score: Manchester City 5-0 FC Copenhagen