Manchester: Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola praised his goal-scoring machine Erling Haaland on Saturday, saying the Norwegian’s record-breaking achievements were good for the team.
Haaland scored twice in City’s 3-1 win over beleaguered Leicester City to equal Mo Salah’s record tally of 32 goals in a 38-game Premier League season.
“I want, I desire, he can break all the records as possible,” Guardiola told a news conference. “That means he’s scored a lot of goals, that means that helps us.
“But I think he wants to win the titles, to be there, and still we are there.
“But it’s impressive, (we) still have to play eight games and he’s close to breaking all of them.” Haaland, in his maiden Premier League season, could obliterate the record in the remaining games.
The 22-year-old striker also took the English football single-season scoring record in all competitions when he got his 45th goal on Tuesday in City’s 3-0 Champions League quarter-final win over Bayern Munich.
Haaland increased that to 47 on Saturday before Guardiola took him off at halftime, with the second leg versus Bayern looming on Wednesday. The popular player lingered long on the Etihad pitch after the final whistle however, waving and smiling at fans.
The Spanish manager said Haaland’s response to sitting out the second half was “excellent as always”, pointing out that his star striker was coming off a groin injury.
“You see his body language, his face during the game. He’s like John (Stones), John and him come from injuries... and after 45 minutes, (it) was good for them to rest.” Stones scored Manchester City’s other goal on Saturday, a left-footed rocket from 20 yards out.
Kevin De Bruyne now has 101 Premier League assists after a beautiful set-up to Haaland’s second goal, making him only the fifth player in history to pass the 100 mark.
With the win, Manchester City climbed to within three points of leaders Arsenal, who play West Ham on Sunday, in their chase for the Premier League title. But City have a far busier schedule, with the Champions League and FA Cup still to play for.
City and Arsenal square off in what should be a thriller at the Etihad Stadium on April 26, with Guardiola aware of how hard his team must fight in the remaining games.
“It’s win, win and win,” he said. “(Arsenal) have done an incredible run of the season so far and I don’t think they’re going to drop much points.” Asked if he was pleased with where his team are as they head into the last stretch of the season, Guardiola said: “We’re really good.”