"I thought of...": Guardiola compares Haaland's goal to another legendary hit
The Spanish coach had memories of his childhood by the Norwegian's goal against Dortmund
His reaction to his signing may no have been all that emotional, but Pep Guardiola is certainly enjoying having Erling Haaland on his team. The big Norwegian centreforward has been scoring for fun since joining Manchester City, and he did so again in the Champions League against his former team Borussia Dortmund. Speaking on that game-clinching goal, Guardiola did not hesitate to compare it to one scored by one of the best ever.
"Maybe the people who know me, maybe you know the influence Johan Cruyff had on my life as a person, educator, manager, mentor and everything", explained the Spanish coach during his press conference. "Years ago Johan Cruyff scored an incredible goal in Camp Nou for Barcelona against Atletico Madrid", Guardiola continued, "It was quite, quite similar to the one Erling Haaland scored. The moment he scored the goal, I thought ‘Johan Cruyff'. It was a really good one. The finish from Erling was exceptional.
The goal Guardiola is referring to is one often called "the impossible goal" in Spain. Cruyff scored it during the 1973-74 season, scored on December 22, 1973. From a low cross by Carles Rexach just outside the box, Cruyff ran to meet the ball way past the far post, jumped and flicked it past goalkeeper Miguel Reina (father of former Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina) with the tip of his boot. The goal, which earned him the nickname of "The Flying Dutchman", was actually the game opener, with the final result being 2-1.
However, Guardiola's praising of Haaland's goal did not stop there, as he also compared the Norwegian to another player, although one that probably brings him far fewer happy memories. "The first impression I had... I kind of remember my friend, dear friend Ibrahimovic, who has this incredible ability to put the [feet] on the roof", explained the Spanish coach with a hint of sarcasm.
Ibrahimovic and Guardiola famously had a big fallout after their only season shared at FC Barcelona, with the Swedish international later calling his former boss a "coward". "Erling is quite similar in [his athletic abilities]", added Guardiola, "And I think it's the nature of him: he's elastic, he's flexible and he also had to have the ability to make contact and get him into the net. So yeah, when you see him 'oh so big, how does he have this flexibility?' But he has it. I think it's in his nature, and mom and dad gave him this flexibility".
Be it compared to Cruyff or Ibrahimovic, Erling Haaland's goal was certainly important, as it secured Manchester City and Pep Guardiola their second win of the Champions League group stages, putting them on top of group G.