MANCHESTER: Erling Haaland scored his 45th goal of the season as Manchester City took a commanding 3-0 lead over Bayern Munich from their Champions League quarterfinal, first leg on Tuesday. Rodri and Bernardo Silva were also on target for the English champions, who took a giant stride towards finally conquering Europe for the first time. Victory was sweet for City boss Pep Guardiola as he came up against his former club for the first time since leaving Bayern for Manchester in 2016, but he warned that the job is not yet done.

“I’ve been three years there and I know in Europe this team is special. To knockout these type of teams you have to make two good games not just one,” said Guardiola. “I know exactly what we have to do there, They are capable to score one, two, three goals. We have to do our game with huge personality.” City also partially settled a Champions League score with Bayern boss Thomas Tuchel, who beat Guardiola’s men to lift the trophy as Chelsea manager in the 2021 final. Tuchel was appointed less than three weeks ago by the German champions with one eye on this tie and he believed his side deserved more.

“I try to not allow my players to focus on the result because it is not the deserved result, it does not tell the story of this match,” said Tuchel. “I’ve seen so many good things that I refuse to just focus on the result. You may say ‘that’s not Bayern’ but I was very proud on the sideline, we were courageous and showed the right character.” City fought off interest from Bayern among other European giants to win the race to sign Haaland a year ago for nights like this and the Norwegian played his part in a clinical performance.

Haaland uncharacteristically fluffed his lines with the first big chance of the game when his weak shot was straight at Yann Sommer. At the other end, City were grateful to a brilliant block from Ruben Dias to prevent Jamal Musiala putting Bayern in front. Rodri then showed the forwards how it is done as the Spaniard took aim from long range on his weaker left foot and curled a sumptuous shot into the top corner on 27 minutes. City turn the screw Bayern picked up Sommer in the January window as an emergency measure after Manuel Neuer’s season was ended by a skiing accident.

The Swiss international proved the value of that move with a number of vital saves to keep Bayern in the tie, starting with an outstretched leg to deny Ilkay Gundogan. But Bayern were made to regret not making their bright start to the second period count. Leroy Sane twice came close to haunting his former club with powerful efforts that were beaten away by Ederson before Matthijs de Ligt and Kingsley Coman had headers from close range blocked by desperate City defending. Instead, City turned the screw in the final quarter to take a potentially decisive lead to Bavaria next week.

Haaland showed there is more to his game than goals with a perfectly weighted cross for Silva to head in City’s second 20 minutes from time. Sommer then produced a fine stop low to his left to turn Julian Alvarez’s shot to safety. But City were not to be denied their third and Haaland his goal as he stretched out a telescopic right leg to turn John Stones’ knockdown beyond Sommer. Alvarez fired another effort inches wide and Sommer needed fingertips to turn over Rodri’s header as City went in search of a final flourish. But Bayern will need one of the Champions League’s all-time great comebacks in eight days’ time if City are to be denied a third consecutive semifinal. – AFP